Lutyens Media, NASA ire on India’s ASAT test is baseless
NASA heartburn on India's ASAT test
The Lutyens’ lobby (just google), which lapped up the hardline stance of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who characterized Indian Anti Satellite test as … “a terrible, terrible thing, that endangered the ISS”, when he worried about the debris caused by the test, were rubbished as baseless when the deputy speaker of state Department (US) Robert Palladino took a more balanced approach. While stressing the need of strengthening Indo-US ties and speaking about the bilateral cooperation in scientific and technical fields, he added, “..collaboration on safety and security in space will continue.”
Bridenstine was ridiculed on social media for his lack of knowledge in field of space expertise. He was in fact the first official to work as NASA administrator, who was elected by a party –line vote of 50-49 after being nominated by President Donald Trump.
The day after NASA accused India of being responsible for increase in 44% debris caused by ASAT missile test, senior advisor to ISRO Chairman, Tapan Misra responded that Indian scientists will not do anything to shame India and debris from the burn-out would burn itself out in next six months. He continued, “..the collision happened 300 kilometres away, where the wind pressure is low, but it is enough to burn it down in six months.” Misra is a former director of Ahmedabad based ‘Space Application Centre’, a crucial arm of ISRO, which is working on Indian Sapce mission – Gaganyaan.
According to astrophysict Jonathan McDowell, at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, while talking to ‘Space.com’, said the Indian Anti- satellite missile targeted its own satellite ‘Microsat-R’ at about 300 kilometers and did not carry any explosives, implying negligible effects of debris.
It still remains unclear for now the exact effect of ASAT test had on the space environment. The US Space Surveillance Network – which is the US Air Force’s main satellite tracking system, would get a better idea of the quantum of debris created over the next few days. Destroying satellites with missiles or in other words, anti-satellite missile test have the capacity to potentially create between hundreds to thousands of pieces of debris that remain in space for many years. In 2007 China destroyed its own weather satellite during an ASAT test and it is estimated that the test created more than 3,000 objects, many of which have remained in orbit for years since the incident.
The good news about the Indian test is that Microsat-R, the Indian satellite that was knocked out, was in a relatively low orbit, so most of the pieces created from this event will probably fall to earth within the next couple of weeks and months. And since the satellite is not incredibly large for a spacecraft, “it’s not something that will create a lot of debris that will be up there for many years to come like the Chinese anti-satellite test,” says Macro Langbroek, a satellite tracker and space situational awareness consultant for the Space Security Center of the Royal Dutch Air Force.
Chinese target was located at more than 500 miles (804 kilometers) high. Still, the pieces may pose a safety threat to launches traveling near the destroyed satellite’s orbit in the months ahead.
In fact, the Indian ASAT test more closely parallels the America’s Operation Burnt Frost, an Anti-satellite test USA conducted in 2008. In February 2008, the US military launched a missile at a failed satellite from the National Reconnaissance Office called USA 193 since its decay was orbiting rapidly. Part of the justification for the test was that the satellite contained toxic hydrazine fuel that could pose a threat if it landed near someone on the ground. The missile destroyed USA 193 when it was about 150 miles (240 kilometers) above the Earth, that created the debris which fell on Earth I less than a year and some of the debris from that test was blasted to a much higher orbit.
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