A day after NASA claimed that the debris from India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test has increased a collision risk to the International Space Station (ISS) by 44 per cent, Tapan Misra, senior advisor to ISRO chairman said on Tuesday that Indian scientists will not do anything to shame India and the debris from the “Mission Shakti” experiment will burn out in the next six months.
“Even the best of friends sometimes criticise you on your marriage day saying the food is not good… When we do something different we will not always get garlands. That is part of life… It has happened at about 300 kilometres in space where the wind pressure is low, but it is enough to burn them down in another six months,” said Misra who was former director of Ahmedabad-based Space Applications Centre (SAC), a crucial arm of ISRO that is working on India’s space mission “Gaganyaan.”
Claiming that the DRDO experiment was “not an explosion”, but was more like a “bullet”, the distinguished ISRO scientist said, “The Chinese did an experiment at 800 kilometer altitude where the air pressure is not much. The debris is still flying around.” Misra was replying to a query on ISS raised by a student at the Gujarat National Law University (GNLU), where the scientist was present for an open house session on the topic “Indian Human Space Programme and its legal implication.”
The comments from ISRO came at a day after NASA administrator Jim Brindenstine pointed out that NASA has identified 400 pieces of orbital debris from India’s anti-satellite test that posed risk to ISS which was launched way back in 1998 and has seen over 54 crewed missions. Jim had also pointed out that a similar test conducted by China in 2007 had posed a greater risk than the recent Indian test.
Misra pointed out that the anti-satellite experiment carried out by DRDO was not an “explosion” but more “bullet-like” and the Indian scientists would have “taken care” of its implications it would have in space. “Knowing the ability of the Indian scientists, I am sure they have done it the right way, with all calculations and in a way that will not cause any shame to India. Because it is in the 300 kilometer range, it will dissipate much faster,” he added.
He said that the existing space debris was already large and different countries were monitoring it through a network of radars, cameras and telescopes. “They are cooperating with each other… If you see space debris (in a collision course), you can always change the course of the satellite,” Misra remarked adding that India will not do anything “deliberately” that will cause accidents in space.