Russia Admits Destroying Satellite With Missile But Denies 'Risky Behavior'

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Nov 18, 2021 - 04:20 AM

A day after the US State Department spokesperson slammed Russia for conducting a "destructive satellite test of a direct ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its satellites" that "generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that threatened the space station." Russia on Tuesday admitted it had conducted an anti-satellite weapon's test against a defunct space satellite. 

On Tuesday, the Russian defense ministry said it "successfully conducted a test, as a result of which the Russian spacecraft 'Tselina-D,' which had been in orbit since 1982, was destroyed," according to Russian news agencies. 

Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said the missile test was "promising" due to its accuracy in striking the defunct satellite. 

"The fragments that formed do not pose any threat to space activity," Shoigu added. 

The confirmation of the State Department's claims came after Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had refused to admit that Moscow had endangered the space station while saying it was "hypocrisy" that Moscow makes space more dangerous. 

"To declare that the Russian Federation creates risks for the peaceful use of space is, at the very least, hypocrisy," Lavrov told reporters, adding that "there are no facts" behind the US' claims.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday described the missile test as a "reckless" and "concerning" act.

"It demonstrates that Russia is now developing new weapon systems that can shoot down satellites," Stoltenberg said at a meeting with EU defense officials. 

French Defence Minister Florence Parly called Russia "space vandals" on Twitter. Germany's foreign ministry called the incident "very cornering." 

For some context on space debris in low Earth orbit, nearly 30,000 pieces of space debris threaten space assets. 

"The biggest contributor to the current space debris problem is explosions in orbit, caused by left-over energy—fuel and batteries—onboard spacecraft and rockets. Despite measures being in place for years to prevent this, we see no decline in the number of such events. Trends towards end-of-mission disposal are improving, but at a slow pace," European Space Agency recently said.

More importantly, Russia destroying one of its satellites during a missile test shows it can also destroy enemy ones.