Russia Adopts Anti-Satellite Missile Test That Creates Confusion in the Middle East

MOSCOW — The Russian military acknowledged Tuesday that it conducted an anti-satellite weapons test that destroyed a target in orbit, sending a vast cloud of debris surrounding Earth and forcing astronauts on the International Space Station to seek shelter.

The announcement comes after a day of silence about sophisticated weapons testing in Moscow amid already escalating military tensions between the US and Russia.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Russian Member of Parliament denied any testing was being done, but some parts were close enough to the International Space Station, where the astronauts closed the hatches and took shelter.

The Russian weapon, possibly identified in Russian news reports as an S-500 Prometey missile, blew up a long-defunct Soviet signals intelligence satellite launched in 1982 that had been in orbit quietly for years.

The explosion created more than 1,500 traceable debris and is likely to eventually produce hundreds of thousands of smaller fragments, according to the US State Department, which has sharply criticized the test for posing a hazard to satellites and crewed spacecraft.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken harshly criticized the test on Monday for being “recklessly conducted”.

The US Space Command said the debris would likely remain in orbit for years or even decades, adding to a lot of space junk. A few days before the Russian test, the space station had to flee from the wreckage From the 2007 Chinese weapons test.

“The Russian Ministry of Defense has successfully completed a test,” the ministry said. said It’s in the country’s first official admission, he said on Tuesday. The result was the destruction of an inactive Russian spacecraft.”

In the statement, it was stated that the debris cloud poses no risk to the International Space Station, other crewed spaceships or satellites.

Earlier on Tuesday, Yuri Shvytkin, deputy chairman of the Russian Parliament’s defense committee, denied any testing had been done. Mr. Shvytkin, “The fantasy of the State Department knows no bounds” saidAccording to the Interfax news agency. “Russia is not militarizing space.”

No explanation was given for the contradictory statements or indications that Russia’s two cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station had received advance warning.

The Russians, with two American and a German astronaut on board, took shelter for about two hours in their spacecraft, which docked at the station where they could send them back to Earth if needed.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said he had “no reason to believe” that Russia’s manned spaceflight program was aware of military missile testing. He noted that the cloud of debris endangered all three astronauts currently in China. Tiangong space station.

The international repercussions of the episode spread on Tuesday. In a post on TwitterFlorence Parly, France’s defense minister, did not mention Russia by name, but criticized the “vandals” for polluting space.

“Space is the common property of our planet’s 7.7 billion people,” he said. “Space vandals have an overwhelming responsibility by producing debris that pollutes and endanger our astronauts and satellites.”

Ms. Parly said the European Union is clear that space is a new “conflict zone”.

Managing space junk has been a looming problem for years. The Russian test has added to a vast pile of scrap already in orbit, including old satellites, rocket parts and debris from previous anti-satellite weapons tests by China, India and the United States.

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