Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Newswise — One year ago today, China intentionally destroyed its own aging weather spacecraft making use of an anti-satellite (ASAT) device, creating in the process the most prolific amount of orbital debris in five decades of worldwide space activities.

That lingering cloud of dangerous space junk from the Chinese ASAT is a wake-up call, one that all nations engaged in utilizing space should heed, observed Ray Williamson, Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation.

“The harmful environmental effects of the Chinese ASAT test point out the need for the space faring nations of the world to come together in developing effective rules for the governance of space activities,” Williamson said.

The consequence of the January 11, 2007 ASAT destruction by China of its defunct, eight year old Fengyun-1C meteorological satellite, Williamson added, signals a requirement for action on several fronts.

“We need an international cooperative approach to space situational awareness, space traffic management and an international agreement banning further ASAT tests,” Williamson noted.

Put in harm’s way by the debris cloud of Earth-circling satellite fragments are billions of dollars of operational satellites in the service of numerous nations, as well as the International Space Station and its crew. In one reported instance, Williamson observed, NASA had to execute a collision-avoidance maneuver with its Terra Earth-monitoring spacecraft to evade a piece of debris from the Chinese ASAT test.

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