Russian forces tested an anti-satellite weapon and caused a lot of debris putting the ISS crew at risk
US Space Command said that a spacecraft collapsed in low Earth orbit causing a cloud of fragments. The debris can potentially threaten other satellites and the ISS.
The US State Department said the wreckage came from Russia's testing of anti-satellite weapons.
Media and space bloggers, citing sources, report that as a result of the tests, the Soviet spacecraft Kosmos-1408, which was in orbit at an altitude of 450-500 kilometers, was shot down.
There were no comments from the Russian authorities.
In recent years, India and China have carried out full-scale tests of anti-satellite missiles.
The Chinese military shot down their own inoperative Fengyun 1C weather satellite in 2007. This led to the formation of about 3.4 thousand fragments.
India also tested an anti-satellite missile in March 2019 that shot down the Microsat-R satellite, a small device weighing about 700 kilograms.
As a result, a cloud of more than 100 debris more than 10 centimeters in size was formed, which dispersed in orbits with an altitude of 200 to 1600 kilometers.
In 2020, the US Space Command announced that the Russian military had launched an anti-satellite missile of the promising Nudol system from the Plesetsk cosmodrome.
After that, no new debris or objects appeared in orbit, and the Russian military did not report the tests.
According to the US government, Russia tested anti-satellite weapons over the weekend.
US Space Command issued a statement that "an event that generated space debris" took place in orbit. “We are working to characterize the area where the debris is spreading,” the statement said.
The representative of the State Department, in turn, said that more than 1.5 thousand large debris and hundreds of thousands of small debris that could not be tracked had appeared in orbit.
According to the astronomer Jonathan McDowell, the target of an anti-satellite missile could be the Soviet Kosmos-1408 satellite of the Celina series, launched in 1982.
According to him, this assumption is supported by the fact that the ISS crew was forced to hide in ships due to the approach of an unnamed object at the very moment when the ISS orbit was approaching the orbit of Kosmos.
British analyst firm Seradata claims that an anti-satellite missile was launched from Plesetsk at 06:30 GMT and hit Kosmos a few minutes later.
At the moment, according to her information, 14 Kosmos wrecks are already being tracked, but the data on the Space-Track website has not been updated, and there is no information about the wreckage there.
- US State Deparment: