India's ASAT debris expected to burn up in atmosphere: Pentagon

The US official's comments came in the wake of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chief Jim Bridenstine labelling India's A-SAT test as "a bad, awful thing".

"The Indian interceptor had the capability to target a satellite at a height of 1,000 km but a low earth satellite was chosen to avoid (formation of) debris", DRDO chairman G. Sateesh Reddy told reporters in New Delhi.

Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine last week condemned India's destruction of the satellite as a "terrible thing" that created 400 pieces of orbital debris, or "space junk".

The letter comes days after NASA chief Bridenstine in a town hall meeting criticized India's anti-satellite missile (ASAT) test because of the debris it generated in the space.

The Pentagon said on Thursday that it stood by its assessment that debris from an Indian anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test would eventually burn up in the atmosphere, even after NASA's administrator warned of the danger the debris posed.

He said that simulations showed that there was a possibility of some debris escaping to higher levels, but we can clearly say the possibility of hitting ISS is not there. The first 10 days are critical and those have passed. "All debris should decay within 45 days from March 27", said Reddy.

At a press conference Saturday, the Defence Research and Development Organisation also said any decision on weaponisation of space would be taken by the government.

With 830 satellites, USA leads the world in the number of satellites, followed by China with 280 satellites.

On March 30, Chidambaram slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for announcing that India had demonstrated anti-satellite missile capability, saying only a "foolish government" would make such a disclosure and "betray" a defence secret.

"As part of our strategic partnership, the United States will continue close engagements with India on shared interests in space", he added, listing areas that included "safety and security" as well as human space exploration. "All necessary permissions were taken", he said.

India in late March joined the ranks of U.S., Russian Federation and China by successfully targeting live satellite on a low-earth orbit.

"The A-SAT test was successfully conducted with a new interceptor missile against a live orbiting satellite in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a hit-to-kill mode".

  • Joe Gonzales