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India’s Mission Shakti increased risk to International Space Station: NASA

Mission Shakti was a remarkable event in Indian History. India became only the 4th nation to unlock and prove the capability of Anti-Satellite weapons. But, this event increased the vulnerability of impact to International Space Station by 44%.

Speaking at a townhall on Monday, Bridenstine, NASA administrator, in a response to a question from a colleague, said that the risk to the ISS (due to possible collision with the space debris) had gone up by 44 per cent after the Indian anti-satellite test, though he added that both the ISS and the astronauts were safe.

“Here is what we know about the most recent direct ascent anti-satellite test done by India. We know that we have identified 400 pieces of orbital debris from that one event. That is what has been identified. Now, all of it cannot be tracked. What we are tracking right now, objects big enough to track and we are talking about objects 10 cm or bigger … about 60 pieces have been tracked. They have got tracking number… Out of those 60, we know that 24 of them are going above the apogee of ISS. That is a terrible terrible thing to create an event that creates debris that goes above the apogee of ISS,” Bridenstine said.

But he also said that the threat from the Indian test was much smaller compared to that created by a similar test by China in 2007, and that no harm was likely to be done to the ISS or the astronauts.

“The good thing is that it is low enough and over time this will all dissipate. You go back in time, 2007, (the) direct ascent anti-satellite test by the Chinese, a lot of the debris is still in the orbit,” he said.

The International Space Station, or ISS, is the world’s only permanent facility in space, and is always manned by one or more astronauts. The ISS serves as a platform to carry out a variety of experiments in space, especially those that require zero gravity, and also for testing new space systems and technologies.

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Written by Sugat Srivastava

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