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U.S. military was instantly aware of India's anti-satellite missile test

When the launch was recognized, U.S. Space Command instantly started informing satellite operators. 


Gen. David D. Thompson
Gen. David D. Thompson

WASHINGTON — The U.S. military's initial cautioning and surveillance arrange on Wednesday at 1:39 AM EST distinguished India's missile launch went for one of its own satellites in low Earth orbit.


"We knew," said Lt. Gen. David D. Thompson, bad habit commander of Air Force Space Command.

When the launch was identified, "we promptly started giving notice to satellite operators," Thompson said on Wednesday during a knowing about the Senate Outfitted Services Council's subcommittee on strategic forces.

The anti-satellite weapon test completed by India's Defense Research and Advancement Association was code-named "Mission Shakti." A missile launched from the ground slammed into a satellite at an altitude of about 300 kilometers.

Related: Indian Anti-Satellite Weapon Test "Mission Shakti"

Thompson declined to specify the precise rise as it may be classified. He noticed that the International Space Station was "not at risk."

The issue was raised at the meeting by the subcommittee's positioning part Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) who asked Thompson about the risk that such tests may pose to U.S. Furthermore, partnered satellites.

Thompson said the eleventh Space Cautioning Squadron at Buckley Aviation based armed forces Base, Colorado, identified the launch. The National Space Defense Center at Schriever Aviation based armed forces Base, Colorado; and the eighteenth Space Control Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, also supported the exertion. "No other country or another military, or common office could have identified, described and cautioned" about risk in space, he said.

In response to Heinrich's question on whether DoD supported "implicit rules" for space activities, Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for country defense and worldwide security, said the Pentagon is "associated with discussions internationally" about the use of anti-satellite weapons but noticed that space security is an exertion driven by the State Department.

"We have shared in nonbinding conviction building measures related with exercises in space," he said. "We are defenders of protected and practical space and the minimization of space debris."

Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Thompson said these types of tests are "always concerning and pose a risk absolutely to our satellites and all satellites." Whenever a test like this occurs, "it's a worry," said Thompson. "It's not just a matter of whether it's a risk to our satellites, but when they generate debris that may be there for quite a while, it may have cascading effects."

The Consolidated Space Operations Center at Vandenberg, which is a piece of U.S. Strategic Command, maintains a spatial index that tracks debris and different objects. The middle operates the Space Surveillance System, an overall system of ground-based radars alongside ground-based and orbital telescopes.

The dangers of space debris also came up on Wednesday at a becoming aware of the House Appropriations Advisory group's business justice and science subcommittee.

 India's anti-satellite missile test created dangerous debris
 India's anti-satellite missile test created dangerous debris  

NASA Administrator James Bridenstine said there is a requirement for better space situational awareness and debris following. He cautioned the issue could deteriorate if more countries start testing anti-satellite weapons. "Debris ends up being there for quite a while," Bridenstine said. "In the event that we wreck space, we're not getting it back."

Related: India's Anti-Satellite Test Made Dangerous Debris, NASA Chief Says

Destroying a satellite purposefully and making debris is "wrong," he insisted. "Some individuals like to test anti-satellite capabilities deliberately and make orbital debris fields that we today are still managing. Also, those same countries come to us for space situational awareness because of the debris field they themselves made." Space situational awareness given by the U.S. military is paid by the American citizen and offered to the world for nothing, he said. "So the whole world needs to step up and say, 'In case you will do this, you're going to pay a consequence.'"


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