India says it has successfully test-fired an antisatellite weapon in a move that brought a warning from the United States that countries around the world should avoid making a “mess” in space from all the debris.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a live broadcast on March 27 that Indian scientists had destroyed one of the country’s own satellites in low-Earth orbit with a missile, highlighting its position as a “space power” along with the United States, Russia, and China.
“Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometers away in space, in low-Earth orbit,” Modi said.
“India has made an unprecedented achievement today. India registered its name as a space power.”
Later, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned any nations contemplating such antisatellite weapons tests that they risked making a “mess” in space because of the debris fields they can leave behind.
“My message would be: We all live in space, let’s not make it a mess. Space should be a place where we can conduct business.
“Space is a place where people should have the freedom to operate,” Shanahan said.
Shanahan said the United States was still studying the effects of the Indian missile test.
Experts say that antisatellite weapons that blast apart targets can create a space hazard by the formation of a cloud of fragments that can collide with other objects in orbit.
India’s Foreign Ministry played down the risk, saying impact occurred in low-Earth orbit and that the fragments would “decay and fall
back on to the Earth within weeks.