Science & Technology

US commits to no more tests with anti-satellite missiles

Washington, Apr 18 (EFE).- The United States said Monday it wouldn’t carry out more tests with anti-satellite missiles and urged other countries to follow its example, after criticizing the tests of this type that Russia and China have launched in recent years.

The announcement made by US Vice President Kamala Harris makes the country the first in the world to prohibit such tests, which several powers have carried out so far to destroy their own satellites and artifacts in space.

“These tests are reckless and they are irresponsible and they jeopardize a lot of what we do in space,” Harris said during a visit to the Vandenberg space base in California.

“We will work with other countries to make this a new international norm for responsible behavior in space,” the vice president added.

The US said it seeks to mark a contrast with Russia, which in November generated “hazardous waste” when testing an anti-satellite missile that NATO said put the International Space Station “at risk.”

According to the US Space Command, the Russian test generated more than 1,600 pieces of debris, which “will now orbit the Earth for years or even decades,” Harris said.

The Pentagon said there are still 2,800 pieces of debris generated by another anti-satellite missile test that China carried out 15 years ago with the aim of destroying an old weather satellite, the vice president added.

Russia, China, India and the US are the four countries in the world that have so far destroyed their own satellites in tests of this type.

The last one carried out by the US occurred in 2008, when it launched a tactical missile against a US spy satellite that was falling on Earth and whose toxic gases could have caused damage to the population.

The US government said these risks to the Earth’s population distinguished its test from those of China and Russia, which it accuses of developing such technology to limit US advances in space and possibly to destroy American satellites in the future.

“A piece of space debris the size of a basketball, traveling at (a speed of) thousands of miles per hour, could destroy a satellite. Even a piece of debris the size of a grain of sand could cause serious damage,” Harris said Monday.

In 2019, the US created a Pentagon command dedicated to space operations to counter the strength of China and Russia in that area, which more and more experts see as a battlefield between the great powers. EFE


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