MIAMI: Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan warned any nations who might be considering anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons tests like the one India carried out on Wednesday to “not make a mess” in space, noting the debris that can be left behind.
“My message would be: we all live in space, let’s not make it a mess. Space should be a place where we can conduct business. Space is a place where people should have the freedom to operate,” Shanahan told a small group of reporters on Wednesday, without saying whether he believed India’s test left debris. He said the United States was still studying the Indian test.
“You cannot make [space] unstable. We cannot create the debris problem that ASAT tests create. So, thoughtfulness goes a long way.”
Earlier in the day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said New Delhi had shot down a satellite in space with an anti-satellite missile, hailing the test as a major breakthrough in its space programme.
Modi made the announcement in a television address to the nation. He said India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.
Such capabilities have raised fears of the weaponisation of space and setting off a race between rival powers.