Russia Confirms Space Test, NASA Calls It 'Unconscionable'

Moscow confirms it blew up a satellite, resulting in space debris
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 2:31 PM CST
Space Station Crew Heads to 'Life Boats' Amid Scare
In this April file photo made available by NASA, the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule approaches the International Space Station for docking.   (NASA via AP, File)

Update: Russia has confirmed that it blew up an old satellite in space with a ground-based missile in a test of new technology. NASA issued a scathing condemnation of the test, saying it generated a dangerous amount of space debris, reports NBC News. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson called it "unconscionable," though Russia accused the US of over-reacting. "The resulting fragments ... did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities," says Russia's defense ministry. Astronauts on the International Space Station had to dodge space debris Monday, though it hasn't been confirmed the debris came from Russia's test. Our original story from Monday follows:

Some space-age drama unfolded above Earth on Monday over two events that may or may not be related. In one, the seven crew members aboard the International Space Station temporarily fled to their "lifeboats" because of space debris in the vicinity, reports EarthSky. More precisely, they entered capsules docked at the ISS that can transport them back to Earth in the case of emergency. Eventually, though, the seven were allowed to re-enter the ISS and resume normal operations. The source of the debris was unclear, but the scare came after reports emerged that Russia deliberately blew up a satellite with a ground-based missile in a test of new technology, reports CNN.

Neither Russia nor NASA has confirmed that such a test occurred. US Space Command put out a statement saying it is "aware of a debris-generating event in outer space," per the AFP. "We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to maneuver satellites if impacted,” the agency said. Even if the Russian test did indeed take place—Politico reports that it happened over the weekend—it's possible the debris that caused the ISS scare came from elsewhere. Two Russian cosmonauts are among the seven ISS crew members. (Read more space debris stories.)

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