Mahindra Group Chairman Takes Shots At NASA Over Space Debris Comment


Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mumbai-based Mahindra Group, has expressed his distaste on Twitter after NASA termed the recent ASAT test of India "a terrible thing."

Mahindra retweeted a tweet of NDTV covering NASA's comment toward the space debris generated by the recent ASAT test.

"A case of the pot calling the kettle black," tweeted Mahindra. "From a nation that created most of the debris in space over decades, this is an audacious statement...."

Mission Shakti

Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, fired negative comments at India's recent anti-satellite test on March 27. Dubbed as "Mission Shakti," the Indian government managed to hit and destroy a satellite at an altitude of about 300 kilometers using a ground-based missile.

Its success immediately made India a space superpower since only three other countries, namely the United States, Russia, and China, have the same anti-satellite capabilities.

The missile was launched and tested from the Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex, according to the recent statement from India's Ministry of External Affairs. The three-stage Ballistic Missile Defense Interceptor consisting of an impactor plus two solid motors were operated by India's Defense Research and Development Organization, a government agency similar to the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Terrible, Terrible Thing

Jim Bridenstine's comment was made during a meeting with NASA officials. When asked about India's recent anti-satellite test, he said that it created a lot of debris that can be dangerous to the International Space Station.

Although the Indian government did justify that the low altitude of the test is to minimize the number of long-lived debris, Bridenstine said about 400 pieces of debris were identified, including some above the International Space Station. Of those 400, he said that 60 pieces are large enough to be tracked by U.S. military radars.

"Of those 60, we know that 24 of them are going above the apogee of the International Space Station," said Bridenstine. "That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris into an apogee that goes above the International Space Station."

The U.S.State Department also made a slight criticism toward the test, although, it was a lot milder compared to Bridenstine's remarks. In a statement, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said that the United States took note of India's government statements that the anti-satellite test was conducted in low altitude so as to limit the resulting debris' orbital lifetime.

However, they also stated that the United States is well aware of the threat of space debris to all operations conducted by all nations in the outer space.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said in its statement that whatever debris the test generates will fall back into Earth within weeks, so there is no posing danger.

NASA is yet to comment on Mahindra's recent tweet.

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