Russia plays by their own rules. This is nothing new. But their gung-ho behavior has started to draw the ire of the entire planet after showering the International Space Station with satellite debris.
Early Monday, the Russian Federation conducted a destructive satellite test. They fired a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile toward the Cosmos 1408, a 45-year-old defunct signals intelligence satellite. The resulting explosion created over 1,500 pieces of space debris, with hundreds of thousands more pieces that were too small to track with current technology. These pieces flew in all directions, including toward the International Space Station.
At the time, the seven astronauts aboard the ISS were instructed to close all hatches to external modules and climb into safe locations. They remained there for about two hours, which was followed by frequent restrictions to certain parts of the station as more debris continues to approach.
The United States Department of State issued a statement, condemning the act for how dangerous it was to both the ISS and the entire planet.
“This will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities. 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.”
Due to something known as the Kessler Syndrome, this explosion will negatively affect space-travel endeavors for years ahead. As the debris continues to move and exist in low-earth orbit, it will increase the danger of any spacecrafts existing or entering that space. This means heavier armor for spacecrafts, which creates greater complication in spacecraft designs.
Space has been the next frontier for mankind for generations. And while some incredible advancements have been made over the years, it’s important that we do things the right way early on. This is even worse, since the offending action wasn’t even done in the effort for advancement. It was a missile test.
We could easily see actions like this gradually evolving into a space-conflict of sorts. With the declaration of things like the Space Force branch of the military and the idea of space missiles, interstellar warfare is not an impossibility for the future. We should consider things like this now, before it evolves into something more severe. Wars are already expensive, imagine how much a space war would cost.