The Biden administration says it is banning the United States from testing anti-satellite missiles, a move that White House officials say is intended to underscore its hopes of establishing new standards for space warfare, according to White House officials.
The U.S. has sharply criticized Russia and China for conducting anti-satellite missile tests, although they also used an interceptor missile fired from a U.S. Navy warship more than 14 years ago to destroy a faulty spy satellite.
This issue became more relevant after Russia in November launched a rocket destroy a non-existent Soviet-era satellite.
Vice President Kamala Harris, speaking Monday at the Vandenberg Space Force on the central coast of California to underscore the administration’s move, criticized Russia’s actions as “reckless” and “irresponsible.”
The strike resulted in more than 1,500 pieces of space debris increased risk for US and Russian astronauts aboard the International Space Station and the Chinese Tiangun Space Station, according to the U.S. Space Command.
“Simply put, these tests are dangerous,” Harris said. “And we will not hold them.”
The Russian ordeal came at a time when it was building up troops ahead of its own the last invasion of Ukraine. Especially than the seven-week war left thousands dead and summoned to the United States and their allies imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia.
A similar test of weapons by China in 2007 also led to widespread wreckage.
Harris stressed that the wreckage created by the missile tests threatens not only astronauts and US military interests, but can also affect commercial satellites that the world relies on for weather forecasts, GPS systems to help drivers navigate the streets, television broadcasting and critical infrastructure.
“A piece of space debris the size of a basketball moving at thousands of miles per hour would be destroyed by a satellite. Even a small piece like a grain of sand can cause serious damage,” Harris said.
The announcement of the ban on anti-satellite missile tests came months after Harris announced at a meeting in December that representatives of the White House National Security Council would work with Pentagon, State Department and other U.S. national security officials to develop proposals for national security norms of space.
The United States is the first country to announce such a ban. Harris said she hoped other countries would follow suit soon.
The direct-lift weapons that the Biden administration is committed to preventing depend on interceptor rockets coming from the Earth’s surface to hit a satellite target hundreds of miles into space.
Since the 1960s, the United States, China, India and Russia have conducted more than a dozen anti-satellite tests in space, destroying satellites and creating more than 6,300 pieces of orbital debris, according to the Secure World Foundation, a non-governmental group advocating for sustainable and peaceful space use. space.
At least 4,300 pieces of this debris are still in orbit today and pose a long-term threat to human spaceflight, science and national security missions, as well as to the future economic development of space, the foundation said.
Tests of the anti-satellite rocket, conducted by the United States in 2008, and India in 2019, were aimed at satellites at much lower altitudes, well below the space station at a distance of about 260 miles (420 kilometers).
The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi said that the destruction of the satellite in low orbit by a rocket was to demonstrate India’s ability as a “space power” alongside the United States, Russia and China. He ordered the launch a few weeks before the national election.
The non-existent Russian satellite Cosmos 1408 was orbiting about 40 miles (65 kilometers) higher when it was destroyed in November by a rocket fired from northern Russia.
Brian Widen, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation, called the Biden administration’s move significant, putting pressure on China and Russia to take similar action.
“Over the last decade, they have made a lot of diplomatic noise about preventing a space arms race, while testing their own (anti-satellite) weapons and creating orbital debris,” Weiden said of Russia and China.