The United States space agency has described India’s destruction of a space-based satellite as “a terrible thing” and could threaten the International Space Station (ISS).
NASA director Jim Brydenstein said the risk of colliding satellite debris at the ISS rose 44 percent in 10 days after the Indian test.
But he added: “The International Space Station is still safe, and if we need to move it, we will do it.”
India is the fourth country in the world to conduct such experiments in space.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Moody announced the experience – dubbed “Mission Shakti” – on March 27, saying he had established India’s status as a “space power.”
In a letter to NASA employees, Brandstein strongly criticized the testing of such anti-satellite weapons.
NASA has identified 400 pieces of orbital debris and is tracking 60 pieces, each of which is longer than 10 centimeters in diameter. He noted that 24 of those pieces posed a threat to the International Space Station.
“It’s a terrible thing, to make an accident that sends debris at a location higher than the ISS,” Brandstein said.
A day after India’s successful test, US Defense Secretary Patrick Chanahan warned that the incident could cause “chaos” in space, but said Washington was still studying its effects.
India confirms that it conducted the experiment in low Earth orbit, at a height of 300 kilometers, so as not to leave space debris that could collide with the International Space Station, or satellites in space.
“That’s why we conducted the experiment at a low altitude and it will disappear in a short time,” said J. Satish Reddy, head of India’s Defense and Development Research Commission, in an interview with Reuters news agency last week.
NASA director confirmed the health of the former Indian opinion, said that this will happen eventually.
“The good thing is that the experiment was carried out in a low Earth orbit, and it will fade over time,” he said.
China had raised international concern for a similar test in 2007. The NASA director said at the time that “much of the debris, resulting from that experiment, remained in orbit.
The US military is tracking about 10,000 pieces of space debris, about one-third of which has been reported to have been from the Chinese experience.
Arms control activists expressed concern about the growing trend towards militarization of space.
The anti-satellite weapon technology will allow India to destroy unwanted satellites of hostile forces in any dispute.
That experience is likely to feed regional rivalry between India and China.
The trial also angered India’s opposition parties, accusing the Indian prime minister of using it as political propaganda ahead of the country’s general elections scheduled for April 11.