The United States on Wednesday said it was still studying the outcome of an anti-satellite weapons test carried out by India, but added that such exercises often “make a mess” in space.
India on Wednesday shot down a live satellite in space as part of an operation called Mission Shakti, which it said was an effort to show its capability to protect its space assets. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a rare televised address to the nation.
The government said the mission used indigenous technology and one of India’s own satellites, and was not targeted at any country. India is the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.
“We all live in space, let’s not make it a mess,” said Acting US Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan, according to Reuters. “Space should be a place where we can conduct business. Space is a place where people should have the freedom to operate.”
The Ministry of External Affairs, however, said the impact occurred in low atmosphere and that the remnants would “decay and fall back on to the Earth within weeks”.
Without naming India, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said the consequences of anti-satellite weapons tests could be long-lasting. “If we wreck space, we’re not getting it back,” he added.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry, without naming India, called itself a “strong proponent of prevention of arms race in outer space”. “Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarisation of this arena,” Pakistan said in a statement. “We believe that there is a need to address gaps in the international space laws with a view to ensuring that no one threatens peaceful activities and applications of space technologies for socio-economic development.”
Using a reference to the 17th-century Spanish classic, Pakistan said “boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote’s tilting against windmills”. “We hope that countries which have in the past strongly condemned demonstration of similar capabilities by others will be prepared to work towards developing international instruments to prevent military threats relating to outer space.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that it hoped “each country will uphold peace and tranquility in outer space”.