Anti-satellite testing in which a targeted orbiting satellite is destroyed by a projectile has become dangerous in a crowded orbital environment. The poster child for the catastrophic impact of such tests is a 2007 test in which China splintered its Fengyun-1C satellite into more than 3000 pieces of space debris. Debris endangers other satellites and spacecraft and such tests have broadly been condemned by the international community. China has recently engaged in calling for a space code of conduct that would help control debris proliferation, but analysts suspect that the country is still performing tests, although possibly tests that are less destructive in nature. The Secure World Foundation has issued a fact sheet summarizing all known and suspected Chinese anti-satellite tests:

During the Cold War, the United States and Russia conducted dozens of anti‐satellite (ASAT) systems tests in space, a handful of which created long‐lived orbital debris. Over the last several years, China has conducted a series of tests in space of at least one, and possibly two, oft heir own ASAT systems. While at least three of these tests included the destruction of a target, only one, conducted in January 2007, resulted in the creation of long‐lived orbital debris. This fact sheet collates what is known and what is theorized about China’s ASAT testing in space, which suggests a multi‐year testing program similar to those previously conducted by the U.S. and Russia.

Read the full fact sheet here.

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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