According to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, India's recent anti-satellite test created 60 pieces of orbital debris big enough to track, 24 of which rise higher than the International Space Station's orbit around Earth.
India on March 27 had become a "space superpower" with the successfully testing an anti-satellite weapon under "Mission Shakti" where it destroyed its own decommissioned satellite that was hovering in the Low Earth Orbit (LOE) at a height of 300 Km from the earth's surface. "Whatever debris is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks".
The Chinese demonstration was carried out at 800 kilometers and was widely condemned because of the resulting space debris, which will likely stay in orbit for decades or longer.
Prior to the March 27 test, for India's 80 pieces, there were 4,091 pieces of debris by the US, 4,025 by Russian Federation and China's 4,038, according to SPACE-TRACK.
Bridenstine went on to say, "The good things is, it's low enough in Earth orbit that, over time, this will all dissipate". The military's initial judgment was that India's launch did not directly endanger the ISS, although Pentagon officials voiced the same concerns as NASA about escalating tests by a growing number of aspiring space powers could create a very unsafe orbital environment in the future.
NASA said that India shot its satellite to pieces, posing an "unacceptable" risk to astronauts on the ISS.
"This is a bad, awful thing" is how NASA has reacted to the "dangers" that the so-called Indian missile feat has caused to astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Bridenstine emphasized that, despite the increased risk, the six people now on the station are not in danger. However, should the risk increase even more, the ISS can be moved out of the path of any unsafe debris, though NASA would rather not have to take this measure.
The International Space Station was launched way back in 1998 and has been seen over 54 crewed missions. "If we need to manoeuvre it we will". "The probability of that, I think, is low".
"And when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well", he added.
Bridenstine's statements represent the strongest criticism to date of the test by a USA government official.
"The test was calibrated keeping in mind the debris issue".
China provoked worldwide alarm with a similar test in 2007. After suffering a significant setback during preparations for a launch pad abort test in June 2018, the company managed to keep those problems from going public for about a month.
"Space should be a place where we can conduct business". Those companies worry about how such tests could increase orbital debris and adversely affect their operations.
Bridenstine also highlighted how tracking debris, including space junk created by India's satellite destruction, will be essential for future space missions, CBS News reported.