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Pentagon backs India, says ASAT debris expected to burn up in space

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Washington, Apr 05: The Pentagon said on Thursday that it stood by its assessment that debris from an Indian anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test would eventually burn up in the atmosphere, even after NASA's administrator warned of the danger the debris posed.

India used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km (186 miles), in a test aimed at boosting its defenses in space.

Pentagon backs India, says ASAT debris expected to burn up in space

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Monday that more than 400 pieces of orbital debris from the test had been identified, including debris that was traveling above the International Space Station - something he called a "terrible, terrible thing."

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His statement came a day after NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said that the test had created 60 pieces of orbital debris big enough to track and 400 pieces of debris in total. Of these, 24 pieces rise higher than the International Space Station's orbit around Earth, Bridenstine had said.

"That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station," Bridenstine had said. "And that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight that we need to see happen."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that the test, known as Mission Shakti, was successful. His announcement, however, was criticised and described as a violation of the Model Code of Conduct by many.

The International Space Station was launched way back in 1998 and has been seen over 54 crewed missions. Jim had said that a similar test conducted by China in 2007 had posed greater risk than the recent Indian test.

In 2007, China destroyed a satellite in a polar orbit, creating the largest orbital debris cloud in history, with more than 3,000 objects, according to the Secure World Foundation. Since the impact altitude exceeded 800 km (500 miles), many of the resulting scraps stayed in orbit.

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