Mumbai: The US has announced that it will no longer conduct anti-satellite (ASAT) missile tests, becoming the first nation to make such a declaration. Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, made the announcement.
US Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, will announce a self-imposed US embargo at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The ban, the first of its kind by a nation, is part of the Biden administration’s strategy to promote responsible use of space, and Harris will urge other countries to follow suit.
“This commitment addresses one of the most pressing threats to the security and stability of space, as demonstrated by Russia’s disastrous November 2021 direct ascent ASAT missile test. The People’s Republic of China conducted a similar test in 2007,” the White House said in a statement, describing the nature of Harris’s announcement on Monday.
Russia on November 15 test-launched an anti-satellite missile that struck a dormant Soviet-era spy satellite in low-Earth orbit, leaving at least 1,632 pieces of space debris, according to a U.S. Space Force database of orbital objects.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken called the test “reckless and irresponsible” at the time, as the debris field posed a risk to satellites operating in orbit and forced into shelter U.S. astronauts aboard the International Space Station, an orbital research laboratory managed primarily by NASA and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos.
The announcement comes amid increased US intelligence cooperation with Ukraine as the Russian offensive continues.
Western experts are concerned that space-based intelligence satellites could be targeted and shot down by Russia amid the conflict.
The White House said the debris created by these tests now threatens satellites and other space objects that are vital to all nations’ security, economic, and scientific interests, and increases the risk to astronauts in space.
The United States first signalled its support for an anti-satellite weapon test ban in December.