Space companies say ASAT tests threaten economic development | Space

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Enlarge / Anti-satellite weapons from Mission Shakti are displayed during Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2020 in New Delhi, India.

Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

More than two dozen private space companies have signed on to a statement that supports an end to destructive anti-satellite testing in space.

The statement comes two years after Russia shot down one of its older satellites, Kosmos 1408, with a Nudol missile launched from the ground. The test, intended to demonstrate Russia’s capability to shoot down assets in space, showered more than 1,500 pieces of debris into low-Earth orbit. This has forced the International Space Station and Chinese Tiangong station to perform avoidance maneuvers, along with many private and government-owned satellites.

Russia is not the only country to perform such tests. India recently did so, and in the more distant past, China and the US have also demonstrated such capabilities.

“Destructive DA-ASAT tests directly threaten the safety of our space systems and the long-term sustainability of the environment within which they operate,” the statement said. “These tests can create long-lasting orbital debris which threatens national assets, commercial spacecraft, human spaceflight platforms, and many of the space-based services humanity uses on a daily basis. Such debris poses a direct threat to future economic activity and innovation in low Earth orbit by raising the costs of current and future operations and creating uncertainty for investors and operators.”

Building a consensus

This initiative to gather support for an end to such tests, open to companies around the world, was led by the Secure World Foundation, which promotes sustainable and peaceful uses of outer space.

“We’re really delighted that the industry is so committed to making sure the space environment is predictable and sustainable and safe over the long-term,” said Victoria…

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