The successful test of an Indian anti-satellite weapon March 27 created a cloud of high-velocity debris that poses a near-term threat to other spacecraft in low-Earth orbit, including the International Space Station, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told agency employees Monday. Indian officials said the threat was minimal.
An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off and successfully deployed a military electronic surveillance satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland at two different altitudes Monday, before the rocket’s upper stage began an extended mission as a solar-powered experiment platform in low Earth orbit.
India debuted a new configuration of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, featuring four strap-on boosters and an upper stage with solar arrays to generate electrical power, with a liftoff at 0357 GMT Monday (11:57 p.m. EDT Sunday). The mission lofted an Indian military satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.
An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is scheduled for liftoff Sunday night with an intelligence-gathering electronic surveillance satellite and 28 secondary payloads, including 20 Earth-imaging Dove nanosatellites for Planet, the U.S. company which criticized India’s anti-satellite test for generating space debris last week.
The U.S. Air Force was tracking at least 270 debris fragments created by an Indian anti-satellite missile test, but the debris field posed no immediate threat to the International Space Station or most other satellites in low Earth orbit, a senior U.S. military official said Wednesday in a congressional hearing.