Russia test-fired a missile on November 15 that the United States considered a threat to the International Space Station. The U.S. says the launch, which shattered a Soviet satellite that had been inactive for years, also posed a threat to astronauts.

Russia has launched the PL-19 missile from the Pleistocene Cosmodrome, located 500 miles north of Moscow. The Soviet Union’s Cosmos-1408, an old intelligence satellite launched in 1982, was shattered by a missile attack.

As thousands of parts of the satellite began to expand, American, German and Russian astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS) tried to escape. One German astronaut and three American astronauts report aboard NASA spacecraft Dragon capsule (SpaceX Dragon)

NASA says they took refuge on the space shuttle just before 2 a.m. Eastern time in the US and remained there for about two hours. By the time the astronauts took refuge, the wreckage was passing close to the International Space Station every 90 minutes.

Russia’s devastating experiment has angered the U.S. as well. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a statement that Russia was conducting a dangerous and irresponsible experiment. He said the wreckage of the Russian – made satellite would remain in space for a long time and would threaten satellites launched by other countries for security, economic and scientific interests.

‘Objects in space travel at 17,500 miles per hour. So even hitting small objects can destroy the space station. It could potentially endanger the lives of astronauts. That’s why they immediately took refuge in space vehicles. ‘ – Said Brian Weiden, a former Air Force officer and space security expert at the Secure World Foundation.

Meanwhile, Russia’s space agency Rocosmos has dismissed concerns from the U.S. and other astronomers. He tweeted that the wreckage had moved out of the International Space Station’s orbit and that the station was now in the Green Zone.

Russia has already conducted such missile tests. The U.S. military has tested the missile at least 10 times since 2014, according to the US – based Time magazine. But all of Russia’s experiments were broken on eight levels.

Other countries that have tested anti-satellite missiles

Anti-Satellite Missiles (ASAT) are space weapons designed to deactivate or destroy satellites launched into space. Many countries have anti-satellite missiles in operation, but only four have been tested so far. Countries like India, Russia, China and the US have launched missiles and destroyed their own satellites.


The U.S. Air Force’s Weapon System ‘WS-199A’ launched a series of extensive missile programs in the late 1950s. The U.S. conducted about a dozen test launches between May 26, 1958 and October 13, 1959. The air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) was used to test the ‘WS-199A’ project. But these failed and the U.S. stopped testing air-launched ballistic missiles. Later tests were carried out to change the structure of the missiles.

On February 21, 2008, the U.S. Navy launched the RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 from the Pacific Ocean. It was attached to a ship. The missile, which was launched after launch, destroyed the US spy satellite USA-193.


On March 27, 2019, India launched its first anti-satellite missile, Mission Shakti. The missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha. The Indian missile struck a test satellite at an altitude of 300 km from the Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

The missile system was developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization, a research arm of the Indian Defense Services. With this test, India became the fourth country to use an anti-satellite missile.


On January 11, 2007, China test-fired its first anti-satellite missile. China used the SC-19 ASAT missile for this purpose. The Chinese weather satellite FY-1C, launched in 1999, was destroyed by a missile. FY-1C weighed about 750 kg and orbited the Earth at an altitude of 865 km.

China later tested the SC-19 ASAT missile in 2005, 2006, 2010, and 2013.


Source: Agencies | Compiled by Bhadra Chandran


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