On 27th March, a missile fired during an anti-satellite missile test by India's Defense Research and Development Organization destroyed a satellite in space. PMO Narendra Modi even addressed the nation to declare India as a 'Spacepower'.
The head of NASA, however, isn't particularly happy about it. In fact, the administrator Jim Bridenstine even called the test a “terrible, terrible thing”, while speaking at a livestreamed Town Hall gathering of NASA employees. Why, you ask? Well, it looks like the debris from the test are headed straight towards the International Space Station.
The official press release from India's Ministry of External Affairs stated the test was carried out in the "lower atmosphere" to ensure that there were no space debris. But, apparently, 24 pieces from India's anti-satellite test are now heading towards the ISS.
Bridenstine said “24 pieces are going above the apogee of the International Space Station. That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station. That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight. It's unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”
The US military, in case you didn't know, tracks the objects in space to predict the collision risk for the ISS and for satellites. Over 23,000 objects are being tracked currently, out of which 10,000 pieces are of space debris. Nearly 3,000 of them were created by Chinese anti-satellite test in 2007.
Yes, 24 pieces from India' anti-satellite test sounds like a small number compared to 3,000 created by the Chinese event, but Bridenstine noted that India's test has increased the risk of collision with the ISS by 44 percent over 10 days putting the lives of the astronauts in the ISS in serious danger. Of course, the risk will dissipate over time as much of the debris will burn up as it enters the atmosphere, but we'll have to wait for more updates on the same.
Also, this isn't the first time someone has called out India's anti-satellite mission. Last week, a former ISRO engineer also said that Mission Shakti is a complete waste.