“US Space Command is aware of a debris-generating event in outer space,” the Pentagon said on Monday, saying the US military was “actively working to characterize the debris field.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price accused Moscow of using a direct ascent missile to destroy an orbiting satellite, creating over 1,500 pieces of trackable space debris.
“This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities,” Price told reporters at Foggy Bottom on Monday afternoon.
The crew on board the ISS reportedly briefly withdrew into their modules due to some of the debris intersecting the station’s orbit, but there were no reports of damage.
“Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behavior jeopardizes the long term sustainability of outer space, and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical. The United States will work with our allies and partners to respond to Russia’s irresponsible act,” Price said.
Later in the day, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told the Washington Post it was “outrageous” and “unconscionable” that Russia carried out the missile strike, adding that he believes the Russian space agency “didn’t know anything about this. And they’re probably just as appalled as we are.”
Just got off the phone with NASA Administrator Bill Nelson @SenBillNelson who called the Russian strike “outrageous” and “unconscionable.” It’s his belief that the Russian space agency “didn’t know anything about this. And they’re probably just as appalled as we are.”
— Christian Davenport (@wapodavenport) November 15, 2021
The Russian Defense Ministry and Roscosmos are yet to comment on the matter.