U.S. To Abstain From ASAT Tests In Call For Space Norms
The U.S. will not conduct any anti-satellite (ASAT) direct-ascent missile tests, Vice President Kamala Harris said April 18, calling on other nations to also refrain from the activity to avoid the expansion of space debris in orbit
Harris announced to step during a visit to Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, urging it to become a new international norm for responsible behavior in space. The announcement comes about five months after Russia conducted a successful ASAT missile test, which destroyed a defunct Soviet satellite and created more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris.
“The long-lived debris created by these tests now threaten satellites and other space objects that are vital to all nations’ security, economic, and scientific interests, and increases risk to astronauts in space,” The White House said in an announcement. “Overall, these tests jeopardize the long-term sustainability of outer space and imperil the exploration and use of space by all nations.
A U.S. space policy expert says Russia and China have long been asking the U.S. to pass the “Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force Against Outer Space Objects,” but the U.S. considers the treaty flawed because it is not verifiable. The U.S. refusal to sign the treaty has allowed Russia and China to claim the U.S. is not serious about security in space. But this new declaration by Harris will put the onus back on China and Russia to sign up for a similar commitment, the expert contends.