Australia condemns Russian anti-satellite test for threatening other spacecraft

By Jackson Graham

Thursday November 18, 2021

A DEFGRAM issued under the direction of Peter Dutton said he would not tolerate discrimination but also would not be 'pursuing a woke agenda'.
Peter Dutton said the test was a provocative and dangerous act. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Australia has joined international condemnation of Russia for testing an anti-satellite weapon that has put debris into space that Australia says now threatens other spacecraft. 

Defence minister Peter Dutton said the test was a provocative and dangerous act, amid the world increasingly relying on space for security, public safety, communications and commerce. 

“This test by Russia, combined with other recent counter-space weapons testing, calls into question Russia’s sincerity in promoting security in space,” Dutton said.

Russia confirmed this week it had successfully destroyed one of its spacecrafts — in orbit since 1982 — during a missile test. 

It denied that fragments formed from the destruction now posed a threat to space activity. 

But Australian defence department ministers said in a statement the test created more than 1500 pieces of long-lived debris in space that now threaten numerous satellites and the International Space Station. 

The situation reportedly caused controllers to order astronauts aboard the space station earlier this week to seek shelter in docked capsules. 

Foreign affairs minister Marise Payne said Australia was committed to working with all nations on the long-term sustainability, safety and security of space. 

Russia’s actions are not those of a nation committed to ensuring the peaceful use of space nor the prevention of an arms race in outer space,” Payne said.  

The United Nations adopted a resolution on ‘reducing space threats through rules and principles of responsible behaviours’ last year. 

Australia made a submission to the resolution stating activities should not “deliberaliety or foreseeably create long-lived debris fields” and nations should commit to activities in space with “openness, transparency and predictability”.

Australia says it is working with nations including Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, the UK and US, among others, on international norms for responsible activity in space. 


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