Since 2008, the United States has conducted tests to destroy satellites using missiles. Vice President Kamala Harris recently announced that the country will officially stop carrying out this type of experiment in the last week. The reason has to do with the production of space junk, which can harm other satellites and space missions. The US announcement comes after a test conducted by Russia conducted in November 2021. At the time, the experiment created a cloud of space junk so large that it required the International Space Station to perform a collision avoidance maneuver.
“The space junk created by these tests is a threat to satellites and other space objects that are vital to the nation’s security, scientific and economic interests. In addition, they increase the risk to astronauts in space,” Harris said in a statement. “Overall, these tests undermine the long-term sustainability of space and endanger the exploration and use of space by all nations.” Companies and governments have increasingly launched satellites for various purposes, such as global communication, navigation, and providing internet access, as SpaceX has done with the Starlink satellite constellation. The problem is that when accumulating a lot of equipment in orbit, there is an increase.
Although the United States has announced the end of tests with anti-satellite missiles, the fact is that it has other types of experiments to try to destroy satellites without being destroyed in space. There are, for example, initiatives to use lasers to disable satellites (China supposedly has already mastered this technique) or even hack control systems to completely disable space equipment.
With information from Space.com and Quartz