Russia launched a ground missile to destroy one of its satellites on Monday (15). The explosion generated more than 1,500 traceable debris and thousands of smaller, impossible-to-locate debris, which spread across Earth’s orbit, according to the US State Department.
Space debris intersects with the International Space Station (ISS) every 93 minutes at a speed of 28,000 kilometers per hour, endangering the lives of seven people, three American astronauts, a Japanese astronaut, a French astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts , who live locally.
In addition, three NASA astronauts and a German astronaut from the European Space Agency, who were inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon, recently docked with the ISS, had to be more careful when opening the ship’s hatches to enter the space station.
Testing of anti-satellite systems
For the past two years, the US Space Command has tracked Russia’s anti-satellite system (ASAT) tests. In 2020, two tests with the technology were identified, but which appear to have destroyed no targets in space. This time, however, the attempt ended an old Russian satellite called Kosmos 1408, launched in 1982.
It is noteworthy that the Russians are not the only ones to carry out these missile launches, seen as a demonstration of military force in space. China conducted an ASAT test in 2007, which destroyed its Fengyun 1C satellite and created thousands of pieces of space junk, many still in Earth orbit. India carried out a similar operation in 2019, creating hundreds of fragments.
The United States also conducted an ASAT test in 2008, when it destroyed a satellite launched by the National Reconnaissance Office, which was leaving orbit with a tank carrying half a ton of a toxic fuel called hydrazine.