Manitoba Daily

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Russia denies putting ISS astronauts in risk with a weapons testing

Key takeaways:

  • On Tuesday, Russian officials denied putting astronauts on the International Space Station in danger by conducting a weapons test.
  • According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, astronauts are now four times more vulnerable to space trash than previously.

Russian officials denied on Tuesday that they put astronauts on the International Space Station in danger by performing a weapons test that resulted in over 1,500 pieces of space trash.

On Monday, US officials accused Russia of destroying an outdated satellite with a missile in a “reckless and irresponsible” attack. They claimed the debris could cause damage to the space station, and a claim backed up by NATO’s top commander.

According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, astronauts are now four times more vulnerable to space trash than previously. For example, cosmos 1408, a decommissioned Russian satellite, was orbiting 65 kilometres above the space station.

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The test “clearly indicates that Russia, while its claims of opposing the weaponization of outer space, is willing to… jeopardize the exploration and the use of outer space by all nations by its dangerous and irresponsible behaviour,” according to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

According to White House spokesman Andrew Bates, Russia’s conduct revealed Russia’s “total contempt for the security, stability, safety, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations.”

“For years to come, this debris will represent a direct threat to activities in outer space, putting at risk satellites that all nations rely on for national security, economic success, and scientific discovery.”

“As we seek to respond to this irresponsible act,” he said, the US would engage with its partners.

Russia denies risking ISS astronauts with a weapons test.

Russia condemns “hypocrisy.”

In a statement released Tuesday, the Russian space agency Roscosmos refused to confirm or deny the strike, saying only that the “unconditional safety of the crew has been and remains our paramount priority.”

Russia’s defence ministry confirmed on Tuesday that it had performed a test and destroyed a defunct satellite which had been in orbit since 1982, but insisted that “the United States knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in aspects of test time and orbital parameters, did not and would not pose a danger to orbital stations, spacecraft, or space activities.”

It referred to US officials’ comments as “hypocritical.”

The operation was carried out “with surgical precision,” according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and presented no threat to the space station. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also called it “hypocrisy” to claim that Russia threatens peaceful space activity.

Those onboard the International Space Station — four Americans, one German, and two Russians — were ordered to seek cover in their docked capsules as soon as the situation became evident early Monday morning. 

They spent two hours in each capsule before emerging to close and reopen hatches to the station’s various labs per orbit, or every one and a half hours, when they travelled near or through space debris.

When orbiting at 28,000 km/h, even a speck of paint might cause serious harm. Likewise, something large could have disastrous consequences if it collides with something else.

Source: CBC News

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