U.S. vows not to conduct destructive anti-satellite missile tests in space, urges world to follow suit

iNDICA News Bureau-

U.S. Vice-President Kamala Harris announced Monday the country’s decision never to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile tests. She made the announcement during a visit to the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

“I am pleased to announce that as of today, the United States commits not to conduct destructive direct-ascent anti-satellite missile testing,” the Veep said in her speech at the base, according to a White House statement.

Harris said the U.S. was making the announcement unilaterally to establish this as a new international norm for responsible behavior in space and called upon other countries to make similar commitments and work together to establish this as a norm.

She made the case that such efforts benefit all peoples irrespective of whether their countries have a space program and said she had raised the issue with leaders from around the world, including countries like Singapore, France, Bahrain and India.

Criticizing China’s ASAT test back in 2007 and Russia’s in November last year as reckless, she said they had endangered all space programs by generating thousands of pieces of debris that will continue to orbit the earth for years, if not decades.

She said the 18th Space Defense Squadron had identified more than 1,600 pieces of debris from the Russian test while over 2,800 pieces continue to remain in space from the Chinese test 15 years ago.

“This debris presents a risk to the safety of our astronauts, our satellites, and our growing commercial presence,” the Veep said. “A piece of space debris the size of a basketball, which travels at thousands of miles per hour, would destroy a satellite. Even a piece of debris as small as a grain of sand could cause serious damage.”

At the Biden Administration’s first National Space Council meeting in December, Harris, who chairs the council, tasked National Security Council staff to work with the Department of Defense, the Department of State and other national security agencies to develop proposals for national security space norms that advance U.S. interests and preserve the security and sustainability of space.

The commitment announced Monday is the first initiative under this effort. The U.S. is the first country to make such a declaration.

The new commitment also protects U.S. interests in space, Harris said. “Meaningfully reducing ASAT testing and debris generation advances US national security interests and protects long-term US interests in space exploration, space science, and space-enabled economic development,” the White House statement said.