India is currently in hot waters for creating so much space junk after its anti-satellite missile test. National Aeronautics and Space Administration is disappointed, saying it now threatens the International Space Station in various aspects.
On March 27, India performed Mission Shakti, which aims to prove that India has what it takes to protect the space and its objects. The Indian government deems the mission successful, but NASA thinks it comes with a price.
Details Of Space Junk
The mission generated about 400 pieces of junk at the minimum. Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator, said that 60 pieces were large enough to track. What's worse, 24 of those debris went above the apogee of ISS, which is the station's orbit farthest from the Earth. Bridenstine explained that an event that can cause junk to reach beyond the apogee of the ISS is a terrible thing.
India Did It On Purpose
India said everything went according to plan, including the production of debris.
"Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks," the Government of India's Ministry of External Affairs wrote in a statement. The press release further explained that the test was conducted in the lower atmosphere to guarantee that there is no space debris.
Bridenstine was not convinced. He said the mission spikes up the risk of small debris striking the station by 44 percent over a period of 10 days immediately after the test. For him, the outcome was unacceptable, and NASA should be certain as to how it impacts the ISS operations.
Impact On Astronauts
For NASA, the Indian mission is not in sync with the future of human spaceflight. It is not agreeable to permit people to generate debris in the orbit that may put their people at risk.
NASA is on a mission to facilitate more projects in space to improve human conditions. These activities include pharmaceutical experiments, 3D printing of human organs, and testing manufacturing abilities in space that people are not capable of doing in gravity very well. All these are being put in jeopardy with events such as what happened in the Shakti mission. If one country pulls it off, others will feel the urge to follow suit.
Narendra Modi, prime minister of India, declared on March 27 that his country was able to make history by launching its very own low-orbit satellite with a missile straight from the ground to space. So far, only three nations in the world have been able to do that. Now, India is up there with the United States, Russia, and China for achieving such feat.
At the moment, NASA is monitoring about 23,000 pieces of junk, measuring about 10 centimeters or bigger. A third of these debris were documented in 2007, when China performed its own anti-satellite test, and in 2009, when U.S. and Russian communication satellites bumped into each other.