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Lately, space debris has been a bit of a recurring subject. With an emerging space tourism sector, plans on achieving a permanent human presence on the moon and mars, as well as an ever-growing number of satellites, it's become increasingly important to strive for safety and sustainability in orbit.
On April 18 at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, US Vice President Kamala Harris made an important announcement. The United States has committed to not test anti-satellite missiles, also known as ASAT's.
The goal is to establish an international norm for responsible behavior in space. This norm is the result of a request made at the National Space Council meeting last December, where the Department of Defence and National Security Council were tasked to develop national security space norms.
This move is a direct response to a Russian test of an ASAT weapon in November of last year, an incident that created debris that forced the International Space Station to change course and its crew to seek shelter in their crew capsules. A similar test had been performed by China in 2007.
“There is no doubt that human spaceflight and the future of the space environment are incompatible with destructive direct-ascent ASAT missile tests. Vice President Harris and the Biden Administration’s leadership to address these threats and reduce risk is an important step forward to foster a safe, sustainable space environment – now and into the future. I encourage the world to join us in making this important commitment”, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote in a statement.