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Russia admits destroying satellite in missile test, denies endangering space station

In this image from video provided by NASA, the International Space Station is seen as astronauts in the SpaceX Dragon capsule undock on November 8, 2021, (NASA via AP)
In this image from video provided by NASA, the International Space Station is seen as astronauts in the SpaceX Dragon capsule undock on November 8, 2021, (NASA via AP)

MOSCOW — Russia’s defense ministry today admits to destroying one of its satellites during a missile test but rejects US accusations that it had endangered the International Space Station.

US officials accused Russia of a “dangerous and irresponsible” strike on a satellite that had created a cloud of debris and forced the ISS crew to take evasive action.

The move reignited concerns about an escalating arms race in space, encompassing everything from laser weapons to satellites capable of shunting others out of orbit.

“The Russian defense ministry successfully conducted a test, as a result of which the Russian spacecraft ‘Tselina-D,’ which had been in orbit since 1982, was destroyed,” the military says in a statement.

US officials said they were not informed in advance of the anti-satellite missile test — only the fourth ever to hit a spacecraft from the ground — which generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said yesterday that the danger was far from over and the debris would continue to threaten satellites and activities on the ISS.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg describes the test as a “reckless” and “concerning” act.

“It demonstrates that Russia is now developing new weapon systems that can shoot down satellites,” he says today at a meeting with EU defense ministers.

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