Russia Blows Up a Satellite in Orbit, Space Station Astronauts Take Shelter

International Space Station 11 photos
Photo: NASA
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Not long ago, the Donald Trump administration gave birth to a new military branch, the Space Force. For a time, the organization was derided (by myself included) for being an unnecessary flex of the muscles, at least at this moment in time. Well, the Russian Federation just proved us all wrong.
On Monday, November 15, the Russians did something few other nations are capable of doing, at least publicly: it blew a satellite in orbit using a direct-ascent missile (ASAT). But as the Russians were applauding, the rest of the world watched in horror at what might have been a tragedy unfolding in space.

As per BBC, the satellite the Russians blew up was their own, the non-functional Kosmos-1408. The piece of hardware weighed over a ton, and when impacted by the missile, it broke up into over 1,500 small, but trackable pieces.

As soon as the debris was detected, astronauts on the ISS (ironically, Russia has two people at the moment up there) were warned by the Johnson Space Center the station may be in danger, and according to protocol had to take shelter and take other required actions to stay safe.

According to NASA, which released a very angry statement after the incident took place (check press release section below), astronauts had to close the hatches to radial modules (Columbus, Kibo, the Permanent Multipurpose Module, Bigelow Expandable Activity Module, and Quest Joint Airlock), then head for the relative safety of the docked spacecraft, where they stayed for about two hours.

As per NASA, there was a brief period of time when the station passed through the vicinity of the debris field every 90 minutes, but at the time of writing that field has moved away from the ISS, and the station is clear.

“Like Secretary Blinken, I’m outraged by this irresponsible and destabilizing action,” blasted the agency’s administrator Bill Nelson.

“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. Their actions are reckless and dangerous, threatening as well the Chinese space station and the taikonauts on board.”

This is a developing story and we’ll keep you updated.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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