The United States military has been watching Russia’s attempts to demonstrate that it can damage a satellite with a ground-centered weapon for years, so the November 15 missile test which went up in flames a satellite in the orbit did not emerge as a complete surprise, according to officials speaking at Reagan National Defense Forum on December 4. During a panel discussion at the Ronald Reagan presidential library located in Simi Valley, California, Gen. David Thompson, who is the current vice chief in charge of the space operations for the United States Space Force, remarked, “These gains in capability are alarming, but they are not a surprise.”
Russia’s missile hit one of its defunct satellites, launching an estimated 1,500 bits of debris into orbit, posing a threat to the International Space Station crew, according to NASA. Russia has tried and failed to do this multiple times in recent years, according to Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), so it’s only natural that they’ll try again until they succeed. Cooper, who heads the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee, which supervises the US nuclear and space programs, said, “It’s part of a trend.”
The US administration was not caught off guard when the actual test took place on November 15, according to Cooper. “Thank goodness, we have extremely good information, and our telemetry is really good.” U.S. Space Command’s space-track.org had cataloged 239 debris particles from ASAT assessment as of December 4, according to satellite tracker Jonathan McDowell of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He wrote, “I foresee many more in weeks ahead.”
COMSPOC, a space tracking company, reported on December 2 that the test took place at 2:47:31.5 UTC on November 15. According to COMSPOC analysts, knowing the exact moment is crucial for predicting the course of the debris items. “Now that we’ve discovered the precise impact time,” COMSPOC added, “we’ll be able to add more rigor to our simulations.”
The estimate that the test produced 1,500 tons of debris is an estimate, according to COMSPOC, and more investigation is needed. The business stated that “realizing the first orbit determinations after a breakup occurrence can involve significant ambiguity.”
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