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US Space Leaders Say Debris From Russian Anti-Satellite Test Poses ISS Crew Safety Risk; Gen. James Dickinson Quoted

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Top officials of NASA and U.S. Space Command have criticized Russia’s anti-satellite test activity for generating an orbital debris field they believe would endanger International Space Station crew and satellites in low-Earth orbit.

SPACECOM said Monday a direct-ascent Russian ASAT missile hit and broke the COSMOS 1408 satellite into over 1,500 trackable pieces during the test and the command determined after an initial assessment that the junk will pose a threat to outer space missions for years.

“Space activities underpin our way of life and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible,” said Gen. James Dickinson, commander of SPACECOM. He added that the possible hazard could prompt additional collision avoidance maneuvers.

In a separate statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the orbiting laboratory’s astronauts and cosmonauts implemented emergency safety measures due to the incident.

Both SPACECOM and NASA intend to monitor the debris’ trajectory and provide spacefaring countries data necessary to protect on-orbit operations.