Sunday, March 6, 2011

China’s space debris threatens Indian sats

New Delhi: The space debris created by China’s anti-satellite test in 2007 poses a threat to Indian satellites, the government has said. India’s remotesensing satellites are placed in the low-earth orbit above 175 km (600 km to 900 km polar orbit). This has the highest density of debris cloud that was created after the test.

Stating its policy on militarization of space in Parliament, the government said, “India is strongly opposed to any attempt to place weapons in space or conducting any unconventional weapons tests in space as it’ll pose a perennial threat to all space systems regardless of their use for civilian or military purposes.” Over the past three years, India has ramped up its own capabilities to take defensive positions in a future conflict in space. But, in a rare admission, the government said China’s ability to conduct an ASAT test—the ability to destroy a satellite in space— was, by its very nature, a threat to Indian security.

Quoting international space surveillance agencies, it said China’s test immediately created millions of pieces of debris of size 1 mm to 1 cm, 40,000 pieces between 1 cm and 10 cm, 800 pieces more than 10 cm. It’s the last lot that is particularly dangerous to satellites. These also collide among themselves and break up into smaller pieces. According to US estimates, 97% of them remain in orbit.

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