Russian ASAT missile destroyed a satellite creating a debris field within the ISS's orbital...

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,454   +1,031
Staff member
Facepalm: Over the weekend, Russia decommissioned one of its satellites by hitting it with a ground-to-space missile. The United States Space Command (USSC) said that the anti-satellite (ASAT) test created a large debris cloud that spread in low-Earth orbit. It says it is monitoring more than 1,500 pieces but that thousands more are too small to track.

On Monday, Russia's space agency Roscosmos (Роскосмос) tweeted that it had astronauts in the International Space Station (ISS) move into their spacecraft as it passed by an "object." As of 9:39 am EST, Roscosmos reports the ISS is in the "green zone."

Later, NASA confirmed that US ISS personnel undertook emergency procedures. Ballistic specialists at NASA assessed the situation and had the crew close off radial modules on the station and shelter in their spacecraft from 2 am to 4 am EST Monday morning. During that time, the ISS passed the debris twice. The space station completes one Earth orbit roughly every 90 minutes.

Indeed, Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell plotted the orbit of the debris field and overlayed it on the ISS's path, and found that it crosses through or near the space junk about every 93 minutes. He correctly postulated that Russian satellite Kosmos-1408 was the source of the debris.

NASA officials are not pleased.

"I'm outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated. "With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS but also their own cosmonauts."

Likewise, the US Department of Defense chastised Russia, calling the test "irresponsible." and said it would have lasting effects on space efforts.

"Russia has demonstrated a deliberate disregard for the security, safety, stability, and long-term sustainability of the space domain for all nations," said USSC Commander General James Dickinson. "The debris created by Russia's DA-ASAT will continue to pose a threat to activities in outer space for years to come, putting satellites and space missions at risk, as well as forcing more collision avoidance maneuvers. Space activities underpin our way of life, and this kind of behavior is simply irresponsible."

The United Kingdom Space Command condemned Russia's action as well.

Yesterday's event was not the first time the ISS has been in danger of colliding with space junk. Just days ago, on November 11, a docked Russian supply ship had to push the ISS out of the path of a piece of a destroyed satellite from a Chinese ASAT test. NASA has been tracking that debris since 2007.

NASA will continue closely monitoring the Russian-created debris cloud to ensure the safety of the ISS crew and those of future missions. Knowing the proximity of space junk to manned craft is vital to astronaut safety. Depending on the debris trajectory, collisions at speeds above 17,000 MPH (ISS orbit speed) could occur, catastrophically damaging a spacecraft.

Private firm LeoLabs is also tracking the debris. It tweeted that it detected "multiple objects" near the location of "Cosmos 1408," confirming McDowell's guess that it was the Russian-owned satellite that was destroyed.

The USSC reports that it has been monitoring Russian DA-ASAT (direct-ascent anti-satellite) tests for years, but they have never struck an object. The last one was in December 2020. At the time that USSC said that it worried that a Russian DA-ASAT might eventually hit a satellite and create a dangerous debris field. Such damage is irreversible because there is no way to clean up space pollution.

Image credit: Axiom Space, Inc (CC BY-SA 4.0)

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NicktheWVAHick

Posts: 372   +657
Used to be that I wouldn’t even consider space travel because of the risk associated with strapping yourself to 400 million gallons of liquid kerosene. Now I wouldn’t consider it simply for fear of hitting space debris at 15 million mph. My, how times have changed.
 

VitalyT

Posts: 6,173   +6,656
Reenacting the 2013 Gravity movie plot, are we?

'Cos that's exactly what happened there :)
 

Revolution 11

Posts: 123   +156
All the whining with nothing actually happening.
Its hard to do more against Russia considering all the sanctions already on it, aside from war. War is not happening anytime soon by anyone sane due to nukes.

My question is, will the debris not burn up in the atmosphere in a short amount of time. The ISS already has to boost its orbit regularly due to atmospheric drag.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,487   +6,289
Its hard to do more against Russia considering all the sanctions already on it, aside from war. War is not happening anytime soon by anyone sane due to nukes.

My question is, will the debris not burn up in the atmosphere in a short amount of time. The ISS already has to boost its orbit regularly due to atmospheric drag.
Given that the remaining particles have significantly less mass than the ISS, the orbit of the particles will likely not decay at a substantial rate, and will remain a problem for a long time.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 7,487   +6,289
All the whining with nothing actually happening.
Here's the problem - the ISS crosses the debris path once every 93-minutes meaning that unless something is done every 93-minutes, a collision will happen. From the article -
Indeed, Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell plotted the orbit of the debris field and overlayed it on the ISS's path, and found that it crosses through or near the space junk about every 93 minutes. He correctly postulated that Russian satellite Kosmos-1408 was the source of the debris.
There is no "whining" going on. There is real danger in the situation.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 678   +504
Good thing is that that's the only space junk out there...

/sarcasm

 

dangh

Posts: 507   +773
Good thing is that that's the only space junk out there...

/sarcasm

And? So if there is already some junk then it is fine to create more without second thought?
 

Yenega

Posts: 302   +206
Its hard to do more against Russia considering all the sanctions already on it, aside from war. War is not happening anytime soon by anyone sane due to nukes.

My question is, will the debris not burn up in the atmosphere in a short amount of time. The ISS already has to boost its orbit regularly due to atmospheric drag.

Yeah. If 1 fires a nuke - we are all doomed.

I have canned foods ready and shelter.
 

Ludak021

Posts: 678   +504
And? So if there is already some junk then it is fine to create more without second thought?
the point is in accusing Russia of creating junk and getting all your cronies to do so, while you yourself made 100x more junk before Russia and were hush hush about it.
It's called hypocrisy. And USA is the leader in in it.
 

mbrowne5061

Posts: 2,008   +1,202
Yeah. If 1 fires a nuke - we are all doomed.

I have canned foods ready and shelter.
You're more than welcome to spend your last days fighting hobos over clean water and old cans of beans. Personally, in that scenario, I plan on stepping outside and getting an 'instant suntan' right as the bombs hit.
 

Danny101

Posts: 2,026   +838
You're more than welcome to spend your last days fighting hobos over clean water and old cans of beans. Personally, in that scenario, I plan on stepping outside and getting an 'instant suntan' right as the bombs hit.
I would rather just go then than to suffer a long agonizing death. I told family that if nuclear were to pop off, I'm driving to the nearest strike target.