Russia on Tuesday pushed back on U.S. and ally accusations that its missile test that struck a defunct space satellite potentially put astronauts aboard the International Space Station at risk.
Moscow’s Ministry of Defense confirmed in a statement that it had “successfully conducted a test” to hit an old Russian satellite launched into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1982, NBC News reported.
The anti-satellite weapons test on Monday created a potentially dangerous field of around 1,500 pieces of debris in space, forcing astronauts aboard the International Space Station to take shelter. The United States has since called Moscow’s action an “irresponsible act.”
Russia's Defense Ministry however, dismissed such concerns and said the U.S. “knows for certain that the resulting fragments, in terms of test time and orbital parameters, did not and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities.”
And Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Washington was hypocritical in its claim that Moscow had risked peaceful activities in space, according to NBC.
But U.S. officials have condemned the act and said Washington will now work with allies and partners to respond.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said Monday that Russia’s “dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long-term sustainability of our outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical.”
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, meanwhile, said the U.S. is closely watching “the kinds of capabilities that Russia seems to want to develop,” as they could “pose a threat not just to our national security interests but the security interests of other space faring nations.”
And NASA Administrator Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonOvernight Energy & Environment — Earth records its hottest years ever Global temperatures in past seven years hottest ever observed, new data show NASA welcomes chief scientist, senior climate adviser in new dual role MORE in a Monday statement said the incident was “unconscionable,” as Russia endangered astronauts including their own on the International Space Station.
The U.S. previously accused Russia of conducting a “nondestructive test of a space-based anti-satellite weapon” in July 2020, which U.S. Space Command head Gen. John Raymond called “further evidence of Russia’s continuing efforts to develop and test space-based systems.”
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in its Tuesday statement that it was building its defense capabilities due to the Trump administration’s establishment of the Space Force last year and Washington’s own weapons tests.