U.S. announces the end of anti-satellite missile tests, calling on Russia, China and India to follow suit

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris issued an official statement saying that the United States is pledging to stop testing anti-satellite missiles and urging other countries to follow the U.S. lead.

An anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) test is a military demonstration in which a spacecraft in orbit is destroyed by a missile system. Historically, countries testing anti-satellite systems have done so by destroying their own satellites in space.

This U.S. plan was born late last year after the Russian military destroyed a failed satellite with an anti-satellite system on Nov. 15. In the process, thousands of pieces of debris formed in low-Earth orbit that threatened the International Space Station.

Back in December, Kamala Harris tasked a relevant group to work with other agencies and develop proposals that would establish new national space security standards. The U.S. anti-satellite security pledge marks the first step in this direction. The White House emphasized that “the United States is the first country to make a declaration to end such tests.”

To date, four countries — the United States, Russia, China and India — have destroyed their own satellites in anti-satellite tests. The last time the U.S. destroyed a satellite was in 2008, when the U.S. Navy launched a modified SM-3 missile that shot down the defective National Reconnaissance Office USA-193 satellite.

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