.S. Vice President Kamala Harris pledged that the United States would not conduct destructive anti-satellite tests and called on other nations to follow suit. "As of today the United States commits not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent, anti-satellite missile testing," Harris said

(19 Apr 2022) The pledge covers ASAT tests in which a missile is launched from Earth or an aircraft at high altitude to blow up a satellite.

Such tests, which have been conducted by the United States, Russia, China and India, dating back to the Cold War can create thousands of pieces of debris that pose a hazard to spacecraft for decades.

The announcement does not include other less destructive ASAT weapons, such as "co-orbital" — which use another spacecraft to interfere with a satellite in orbit — or electronic jamming and computer hacks.

The United States, Russia, China and India have conducted destructive ASAT tests by firing missiles into space from Earth or from an aircraft at high altitude.

China, which has also conducted many such tests, last hit a satellite from Earth in 2008, also creating thousands of pieces of debris. India, meanwhile, held a "kinetic" ASAT test in 2019. The most recent was Russia's November 2021 missile attack on an old satellite that created thousands of pieces of debris.

The U.S. has long been one of the leading developers of space-centric weaponry, conducting the first ASAT tests in the late 1950s. The U.S. has conducted at least three ASAT tests that have created debris; two in the mid-1980s and one in 2008.

The U.S. Navy destroyed the malfunctioning U.S. spy satellite USA-193 from a decaying orbit using a modified RIM-161 Standard Missile 3 fired from a warship in the Pacific. The satellite was officially destroyed due to the presence of hydrazine and beryllium on board and the potentially hazardous effect the chemicals could have if they leaked over a populated region.

Reference: AP, Politico

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