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U.S. to end anti-satellite ASAT testing; calls for global agreement

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On February 20, 2008, a Standard Missile-3 or SM-3 was launched by the U.S Navy’s USS Lake Erie towards a non-functional National Reconnaissance Office satellite. It is used as anti-satellite weapons.

U.S. Department of Defense

On Monday, the United States announced that it had committed to eliminating anti-satellite rocket tests. Vice President Kamala Harir also stated this, and urged other countries to follow her lead.

A test of anti-satellite weaponry, also known as ASAT or Anti-Satellite Weapons, is where a satellite is demolished using a missile. ASAT testing has been conducted by countries that have historically targeted their space assets.

Plans for the move were setLate last year, shortly after the Russian military intervention destroyed a defunct satellite with an ASATNovember 15. On Nov. 15, the Russian test produced thousands of fragments in low Earth orbit and put astronauts aboard the International Space Station under shelter while it traversed the shrapnel field.

At Harris’ December meeting as the chair of the National Space Council the vice-president directed the group towards working with other agencies to create new proposals in order to establish national security norms for space.

This is the beginning of this effort. It coincides with Harris’ Tuesday visit to Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The White House stated that the United States was “the first nation to make such an announcement” in order to stop such testing.

To date, four countries — the U.S., Russia, China and India — have destroyed their own satellites in ASAT tests. In 2008, the U.S. destroyed a satellite. The U.S. Navy launched a modified SM-3 rocket that intercepted USA-19’s malfunctioning National Reconnaissance Office satellite.

The White House also continues to push the Artemis Accords (an international agreement regarding space cooperation drafted in 2016 by NASA, State Department, and other countries) during Trump’s presidency. The accords have been signed by 18 countries, nine of which joined the agreement since President Joe Biden’s election.

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