Pakistan expresses concern over India’s satellite destruction: Foreign Office

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed deep concern after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite in a missile test last week in its bid to prove it was among the world’s advanced space powers.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week said they had shot down a satellite in space with an anti-satellite missile, hailing the test as a major breakthrough in its space program.

“Pakistan has noted with deep concern the assessment of relevant organisations and international experts on the threats resulting from space debris generated by the recently conducted Anti-Satellite weapon (ASAT) test by India,” a statement by the Foreign Office said.

“The reports that some of the space debris created by this test has been pushed above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS) increasing the risk of collision are deeply worrying,” it added.

The Foreign Office further said such test should be a matter of grave concern for the international community not only in terms of generation of space debris but also because of its ramifications for long term sustainability of peaceful space activities. 

“It would also be amiss to ignore the military dimension of such actions and its implications on the global and regional peace, stability and security,” it stated.

“Pakistan remains a strong proponent of non-militarisation of outer space. We will continue to work with like-minded countries to address gaps in the international legal regime governing the exploration and use of outer space with a view to ensuring that no one threatens peaceful activities and applications of space technologies for socio-economic development. In the absence of strong legal instruments, other states could also follow suit by demonstrating such capabilities,” the FO added.

Earlier this week, head of NASA Jim branded India’s destruction of one of its satellites as a “terrible thing” that had created 400 pieces of orbital debris and led to new dangers for astronauts aboard the ISS.

The Indian satellite was destroyed at a relatively low altitude of 180 miles (300 kilometres), well below the ISS and most satellites in orbit.

But 24 of the pieces “are going above the apogee of the International Space Station,” said Bridenstine.

“That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he continued, adding: “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight.”

“It’s unacceptable and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is.”