By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The United States has slammed Russia for conducting a missile test that blew up a Russian satellite, creating a debris cloud which endangered the seven-member crew, including two cosmonauts, aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on November 15 said Russia “recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test” of an anti-satellite missile earlier in the day.
“The test has so far generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces of smaller orbital debris that now threaten the interests of all nations,” Price said at a briefing.
The United States military said earlier it was investigating a “debris-generating event in outer space” after astronauts on the ISS were forced to prepare for a possible evacuation.
“U.S. Space Command is aware of a debris-generating event in outer space. We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to maneuver satellites if impacted,” the agency said.
“We are also in the process of working with…the State Department and NASA, concerning these reports and will provide an update in the near future.”
NASA has not yet commented, but its Russian counterpart Roscomos has, downplaying the incident on Twitter.
“The orbit of the object, which forced the crew today to move into spacecraft according to standard procedures, has moved away from the ISS orbit. The station is in the green zone,” the agency tweeted.
Anton Shkaplerov, the current commander of the ISS, also commented on Twitter.
“Friends, everything is regular with us! We continue to work according to the program,” Shkaplerov said.
Earlier, NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer floated into their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for safety, according to a report by Spaceflight Now.
At the same time, Shkaplerov and his fellow Russian cosmonaut Pyotr Dubrov and NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei boarded a Soyuz spacecraft on the Russian segment of the ISS, the outlet added.
Crew Dragon and the Soyuz spacecraft can be used to bring crew members back to Earth in an emergency.