The Impact of India's ASAT Test on Norms of Behavior for Space

Monday, April 8, 2019

SWF Director of Program Planning Dr. Brian Weeden and Washington Office Director Ms. Victoria Samson published a new op-ed summarizing India's March 2019 anti-satellite (ASAT) test and what impact it's likely like to have on norms of behavior for space. Dr. Weeden and Ms. Samson describe how the Indian ASAT test was more akin to the United States' February 2008 intercept of USA 193 than China's January 2007 ASAT test and did not generate a huge amount of long-lived orbital debris. However, the Indian ASAT test still did generate some orbital debris that is likely to pose a threat to the International Space Station or other satellites in low Earth orbit for weeks or months to come. More worryingly, the Indian ASAT test, and the lack of any significant criticism from other countries, appears to further reinforce the norm that such testing is ok as long as steps are taken to try and minimize orbital debris. Dr. Weeden and Ms. Samson finish by discussing what steps the international community, including the private sector, can take to enhance space sustainability and encourage more responsible behavior in space. 

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Last updated on April 9, 2019