India declines to comment on NASA’s debris assessment

RISAT-2B can take pictures of the earth during day and night, and also under cloudy conditions. With a mission life of five years, the satellite would also be used for military surveillance. Photo for representative purpose only

The government on April 3 declined to comment on US space agency NASA’s assessment that India’s anti-satellite weapon test last week led to creation of 400 pieces of space debris that could pose a threat to the International Space Station (ISS).

When contacted, the spokesperson of Ministry of Defence declined to comment. On March 27, India achieved a historic feat by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile, making the country a space power. Only three other countries — the US, Russia and China — have ASAT capabilities.

NASA, on April 2, had termed as a “terrible thing” India’s shooting down of one of its satellites that has created about 400 pieces of orbital debris, endangering the ISS.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said about 60 pieces have been tracked so far and out of which 24 are going above the apogee of the ISS. “That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris and an apogee that goes above the international space station. That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see have happen,” he had said.

The US, however, had downplayed NASA’s criticism of India over space debris created by the country’s anti-satellite missile test, saying the two nations would continue to pursue shared interests in space that includes collaboration on safety and security in space.