NASA chief 'outraged' by Russia missile test that endangered astronauts on ISS

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NASA administrator Bill Nelson said Monday he was "outraged" by a Russian space missile test that sparked a debris cloud and forced astronauts aboard the International Space Station to take evasive action.

"With its long and storied history in human spaceflight, it is unthinkable that Russia would endanger not only the American and international partner astronauts on the ISS, but also their own cosmonauts" as well as taikonauts aboard the Chinese space station, Nelson said in a statement.

The State Department confirmed that the debris was from an old Russian satellite destroyed by the missile strike.

"It was dangerous. It was reckless. It was irresponsible," said State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Earlier Monday, the four Americans, one German and two Russians on board were forced to briefly seek shelter in their docked capsules because of the debris.


At least 1,500 pieces of the destroyed satellite were sizable enough to show up on radar and with telescopes, Price said. But countless other fragments were too small to track, yet still posed a danger to the space station as well as orbiting satellites.

Even a fleck of paint can do major damage when orbiting at 17,500 mph (28,000 kph). Something big, upon impact, could be catastrophic.

"We are going to continue to make very clear that we won't tolerate this kind of activity," Price said.

He said the U.S. has "repeatedly raised with Russian counterparts our concerns for a potential satellite test".

NASA Mission Control said the heightened threat from the debris might continue for another couple days and continue to interrupt the astronauts' science research and other work. Four of the seven crew members arrived at the orbiting outpost Thursday night.

 

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