India claims space debris poses minimal threat

Sunday, 07 Apr, 2019

India used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defences in space. NASA says that the massive amount of debris the weapons test created in orbit around the Earth now poses a threat to the ISS.

Since India conducted the test in Low Earth orbit, it avoided a similar scenario, Shanahan added. "All necessary permissions were taken", he said. "We have conducted the test on 12th February against an electronic target which has given a lot of information for us with many applications".

Reddy said the simulation studies show all debris of the Indian A-SAT test would decay in 45 days. "We will continue to monitor the remaining debris from your test as it relates to the safety of our human spaceflight activities especially at the International Space Station", wrote the NASA Administration, according to the letter.

India's Ministry of External Affairs too has said the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris.

The NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said about 60 pieces of debris have been tracked so far and out of which 24 are going above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS). "All debris should decay within 45 days from March 27", said Reddy.

Reddy also responded to criticism by former home minister P Chidambaram, who had faulted the government for making India's ASAT capability public. Gen. David D Thompson said that as they became aware of the missile launch they notified all the satellite operators. He also asserted that the best way of defence is to have deterrence. "This is a ground-based direct hit works for defence also".

Giving details of Mission Shakti, Dr. Reddy, the chief architect of the ASAT test, said the first discussion on the test started in 2014 and the "formal detailed presentation was made in 2016 and post that we took two years to develop the system".

Some 150 scientists, including at least 40 women scientists, worked round-the-clock, and especially in the last six months on this project.

India's ASAT test catapulted the country into an exclusive club of nations to acquire such a capability - the other countries being the US, Russia and China.