Thirteen nations around the world have now committed to not (or no longer) conducting destructive anti-satellite tests in space (ASATs).
The club of four
The last anti-satellite test was on November 15 2021 (three months before the invasion of Ukraine), when Russia carried out the low-orbit destruction of a former Soviet satellite, Cosmos 1408, using a DA-ASAT (Direct Ascent Anti-SATellite) interceptor, in this case an A-235 Nudol.
The impact had generated some 1 500 space debris, threatening both a multitude of satellites evolving in low orbit, but also the International Space Station (where Russian cosmonauts stay, among others) and the Chinese space station CSS (Chinese Space Station).
Preventive evasive maneuvers had since multiplied.
On March 27 2019, it was India that had invited itself into the very closed club of powers with anti-satellite missiles, by voluntarily striking at an altitude of 285 km the Microsat R satellite with a missile PDV -Prithvi Defence Vehicle) Mark-II.
This time, 270 debris detectable from the ground had been listed.
Until then, only the United States (since 1959), Russia (since 1985) and China (since 2007) had such a strike force.
An American initiative
The Indian and Russian ASAT tests had raised indignation among the international community, starting with the United States, and satellite operators had unanimously condemned the irresponsibility of such acts.
On April 18 2022, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris had announced from the Vandenberg military base in California that her country was ceasing to conduct such tests, and encouraged other countries around the world to follow her example.
In the following number, France (which had never considered such tests) had in turn made the same formal commitment.
Then Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom joined the American initiative.
And since the beginning of the year, three new countries have been added - discreetly - to the list : the Netherlands (on February 27 Austria (on March 3 and Italy (on April 6 ).
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