Dec 1, 2021 - Science

Harris says Russia's anti-satellite test was "irresponsible"

Vice President Kamala Harris at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in November.

Vice President Kamala Harris at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in November. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Russia's destructive test of an anti-satellite missile last month that created at least 1,500 pieces of space debris was "irresponsible" Vice President Kamala Harris said at the annual National Space Council meeting Wednesday.

Why it matters: Harris stressed that the test and its aftermath showed why new international behavioral norms and regulations are needed to help maintain space as a relatively safe environment.

  • Russia's test and ensuing debris threatened the ISS and forced its crew to shelter, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said.
  • Russia's Defense Ministry later confirmed the missile test but denied having endangering the ISS.

What they're saying: "Over the past weeks and months, I've spoken with heads of state and governments about our priorities in space. In these conversations, the opportunity for space as been clear, as has the risk," Harris said during an opening speech for the meeting.

  • "Without clear norms for the responsible use of space, we stand the real risk of threats to our national and global security."
  • "Just last month, we saw what can happen. Russia launched an anti-satellite missile to destroy one of its satellites. By blasting debris across space, this irresponsible act endangered the satellites of other nations as well as astronauts in the International Space Station."

The big picture: Harris said the U.S. should prioritize gaining more signatories on the Artemis Accords, which includes a commitment to mitigate the generation of space debris.

  • So far, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Poland, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have signed the accords.
  • Harris said France and Mexico have indicated that they will also sign the commitment.

Go deeper: Russian anti-satellite test reveals dangers of space junk

Go deeper