After a successful test of an anti-satellite missile (ASAT) on Monday, Russia has been bombarded with accusations of recklessness and of creating new dangers for humans and equipment in space. However, the primary accuser, Washington, DC, has a decades-long history of blowing things up in space with little regard for the consequences.
On Monday, a direct-ascent missile fired from Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia shot down a long-dead Tselina-D radio-surveillance satellite put in orbit by the Soviet Union decades ago. The intercept, which took place over the Arctic Ocean, was timed so as to minimize the riskposed to other man-made objects in space, including the International Space Station, which sits on a different orbit dozens of miles higher.
Despite the precautions, senior figures in the US and other NATO allies have accused Moscow of being “reckless,” claiming the debris field of more than 1,500 pieces “now threaten the interests of all nations.”
“This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities,” US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said. “Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long term sustainability of outer space and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical.”
Similar statements have come from the UK’s and France’s defense ministries.
Given such statements, one would think the US had never tested a weapon in space, much less shot down a satellite before. However, that is very far from the truth. While Sputnik has reported on Washington’s long history of militarizing space, one particularly heinous example stands out: the 1962 Starfish Prime test.
Featured image: © Congressional report
(Sputnik News) by Morgan Artyukhina