Mission Shakti: India declines to comment on NASA`s statement on ASAT

Cristina Cross
April 5, 2019

Bridenstine told NASA employees during a live-streamed town hall that of the 400 pieces of orbital debris the Indian test created only 60 pieces were large enough to be track.

Creating debris in orbit is a "terrible, bad thing", Bridenstine said at a live-streamed town hall meeting.

"America will once again astonish the world with the heights we reach and the wonders we achieve, and we will lead the world in human space exploration once again", he said at a meeting of the National Space Council in Huntsville, Alabama.

In a new test of its growing space might, India made a decision to launch a missile to shoot down one of its own satellites.

Meanwhile, US State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino on Tuesday played down the statement issued by NASA and said that the issue of space debris is an important concern for the US but that it still agrees with what the Indian scientists claimed about the debris. Other debris pieces have been identified but not yet tracked, which means they could collide with the ISS without warning.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been accused of using activities in space as political stunts.

The state department's softball approach to the test contrasted sharply with the hardline taken by the NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine who characterized the Indian test as a "terrible, bad thing" that endangered the ISS and said it is "unacceptable" and "that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight".

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The Nasa boss, while speaking to the staff as part of a townhall meeting, which was livestreamed by NASA TV, said while the International Space Station was still safe, the test was a "terrible, bad thing", adding it was "not compatible with the future of human spaceflight".

In a televised address to the nation last week, Modi said "India has entered its name as an elite space power".

"India stands tall as a space power! Whatever debris is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks".

Pakistan said India's test was detrimental to the cause of space remaining peaceful.

He also dismissed the notion that India's arrival on the space weapons scene will spark a new arms race - because one is already underway and India is simply striving to keep up. The only bit of good news is the danger is expected to pass as Bridenstine explained, "it's low enough in Earth orbit that over time this will all dissipate".

Such activities are placed at risk by these kinds of events, he said, and "when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well", he said.

Prof Narasimha also pointed out that had the DRDO's ballistic missile - developed under India's ballistic defence missile programme - carried an explosive warhead, the explosion could have provided a powerful thrust to the space debris, pushing the debris to a higher altitude.

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