Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Axios on your phone

Get breaking news and scoops on the go with the Axios app.

Download for free.

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

NASA astronaut Nick Hague works outside the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

Last month's test of an Indian anti-satellite missile system (ASAT) put the International Space Station at increased risk of an orbital debris strike, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine warned on Tuesday during congressional testimony.

The big picture: India's ASAT test on March 27 created hundreds of pieces of debris when the ground-launched missile blew the Microsat-R satellite apart. India hailed the test as a technological and defense achievement, but Bridenstine says that it made human spaceflight less safe by creating dangerous space junk. Bridenstine told members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee that he dispatched a letter to India's space agency to inform them that their test wasn't "compatible" with human activities in space.

Details: According to Bridenstine, at least 24 pieces of trackable debris from the Indian missile test are in a part of space that's above the highest point in the Space Station's orbit, leaving the $100 billion space laboratory at increased risk of a debris strike and giving us a glimpse of our spacefaring future if countries continue to develop anti-satellite weaponry tests.

  • According to NASA, the ISS is at a 44% greater risk of a debris strike over a 10-day period following the test.

"That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris in an apogee that goes above the International Space Station, and that kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight," Bridenstine said during a NASA town hall on Monday.

  • Bridenstine also stressed that the six people living and working aboard the space station were never in any immediate danger after the test.
  • "While the risk went up 44%, our astronauts are still safe. The International Space Station is still safe. If we need to maneuver it, we will. The probability of that, I think, is low," Bridenstine said.

What they're (not) saying: While Bridenstine was outspoken in his response to the test, both within his agency and beyond, other members of the Trump administration have been relatively muted.

Secure World Foundation space policy expert Brian Weeden told Axios that orbital debris isn't the biggest problem with India's demonstration of its new capability.

"The real problem is the continuing silence from the U.S. and other governments about this test. That suggests an emerging norm that it's OK to destroy a satellite, as long as you try and minimize the orbital debris. That's not great for the future of space sustainability or things that rely on it, such as human spaceflight or commercial investment in space."
— Brian Weeden, space policy expert at the Secure World Foundation

The bottom line: This isn't just about the ISS. Anti-satellite missile tests like the one launched by India compound the existing space junk problem by making more of it. In addition, the threat other nations pose to American defense satellites is one of the Trump administration's stated rationales for forming the new Space Force.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Australia opposes UN report warning Great Barrier Reef is "in danger"

A green sea turtle swimming among the corals at Lady Elliot island, off the coast of Queensland, Australia. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Great Barrier Reef should be included in a list of World Heritage Sites that are "in danger" from climate change, a United Nations committee said in a report Tuesday.

Yes, but: Australia's government said it will "strongly oppose" the recommendation by UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema: Abolishing filibuster would weaken "democracy's guardrails"

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema at the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) defended her opposition to abolishing the 60-vote legislative filibuster in a Washington Post op-ed published Monday night, saying to do so would weaken "democracy's guardrails."

Why it matters: There have been growing calls from Democrats, particularly progressives, to overhaul the rules as the Senate prepares to vote Tuesday on a massive voting rights package. But Sinema writes in her op-ed that if this were to happen "we will lose much more than we gain."

Court blocks California assault weapons ban repeal

Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

A federal appeals court on Monday blocked a judge's ruling that overturned California's 30-year assault weapons ban.

Driving the news: U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez ruled earlier this month that the ban was unconstitutional and likened the AR-15 to a Swiss Army knife, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has now granted a stay, pending appeal.