UK Space Command has criticised Russia after the nation conducted a weapons test that created “significant” debris in space.
Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey described an anti-satellite missile test undertaken by Russia as “irresponsible”.
The command’s American counterpart, US Space Command, said the test created more than 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris in space.
His comments follow criticism from Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Nasa and US Space Command.
In a statement, Air Vice-Marshal Godfrey said: “Space is already a congested and contested domain, and irresponsible actions like this threaten the peaceful use of space by all.”
Over the weekend, Russia conducted an anti-satellite missile test
This resulted in the creation of debris that will remain in orbit for years, posing a risk to crewed space missions and assets in Low Earth Orbit
The Commander of UK Space Command has made the following statement pic.twitter.com/iisa0Nxp0G
— UK Space Command (@UKSpaceCmd) November 16, 2021
US officials on Monday accused the nation of destroying an old satellite with a missile in a “reckless” strike.
Nasa administrator Bill Nelson told the Associated Press that astronauts now face a four times greater risk than normal.
In a statement online, the agency said the crew on board the International Space Station were notified of the strike and told to seek shelter in their docked capsules, where they spent two hours before re-emerging later.
Russian Defence Minister, general of the army Sergei Shoigu, confirmed the successful test of the anti-satellite system.
He told journalists: “We really have successfully tested a promising system. It struck an old satellite.”
Mr Shoigu added that the fragments formed presented no threat to space activity.
The Russian space agency, Roscosmos, said in a statement: “Ensuring crew safety has always been and remains our top priority.
“Commitment to this principle is an underlying condition both in the manufacturing of Russian space equipment and in the programme of its operation.
“We are convinced that only joint efforts by all spacefaring nations can ensure the safest possible coexistence and activities in outer space.”