Administration

Harris says US will not engage in anti-satellite missile tests

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Vice President Harris on Monday announced the U.S. will avoid testing anti-satellite missiles, urging other nations to follow the lead of the Biden administration after a Russian test last November created a field of debris in space.

Harris announced the self-imposed ban on the tests, known as direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing, during a visit to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. Administration officials expressed hope that the policy would become an international norm for other nations to abide by, calling the anti-satellite missile tests “one of the most pressing threats to the security and sustainability of space.”

The move comes after Harris, who chairs the National Space Council, requested the White House National Security Council in December to work with other government agencies to develop proposals for security norms in space.

The administration believes reducing the missile tests in space will reduce the risk of conflict in space and keep space clearer of debris and materials that would prohibit exploration or damage the environment.

The threat of the anti-satellite missile tests came into the spotlight last November when Russia tested a missile that struck a defunct space satellite, leaving at least 1,500 pieces of trackable space debris and hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces in its wake.

The test prompted outcry from U.S. officials and lawmakers, who said the debris could endanger astronauts and other satellites and warned of Russia’s potential interest in militarizing space.

While at the Space Force base, Harris received a briefing on the work of the Space Force and U.S. Space Command and met with members of the Space Force.

The National Space Council was revived under the Trump administration and led by former Vice President Mike Pence. The Biden White House has previously announced its support for two space-related initiatives created under the Trump administration: the Space Force, which Trump established as the sixth branch of the military, and the Artemis program, which is NASA’s effort to return astronauts to the moon.

Tags Joe Biden Kamala Harris Mike Pence
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