Indian Officials Dismiss NASA’s Concern Over Debris from ASAT Test

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Indian officials are dismissing concerns expressed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine about debris in low Earth orbit from an Indian anti-satellite (ASAT) test that could threaten the International Space Station (ISS) and other spacecraft.

The Hindustan Times reports that an official from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) as downplaying the dangers.

The DRDO chief and a spokesperson did not comment. An official of the agency, while asking not to be named, said the debris will disappear in 45 days. “The test was calibrated keeping in mind the debris issue. The world should know that debris from two Chinese tests is still floating whereas those created by the Indian test will disappear,” he added.

An Indian expert said that India conducted the anti-satellite test responsibly but agreed it could have raised risks for the ISS. “I would say India conducted the test responsibly. At 300km, the altitude is lower than that of the ISS and most of the other satellites and the debris will come back to the atmosphere of the earth eventually. That said, there is a possibility that some debris might enter the apogee of the space station; the risk of collision increases as it does with any object sent to space ,” said Rajeswari Rajagopalan, head of nuclear and space initiative, Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi hailed the test, saying it made India a space power.

During a NASA all-hands meeting on Monday, Bridenstine said the test created 400 pieces of debris, including 24 that went above the apogee of the International Space Station (ISS).

“That is a terrible, terrible thing, to create an event that sends debris into an apogee that goes above the International Space Station,” he said. “And 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….

“While the risk went up 44 percent, our astronauts are still safe. The International Space Station is still safe. If we need to maneuver it, we will. The probability of that, I think, is low,” Bridenstine added.

The space station has maneuvered on many occasions to avoid potential debris strikes.

Bridenstine expressed concerns that the Indian ASAT test will inspire other nations to conduct similar ones, thus increasing the debris in orbit.

India Plans Hypersonic Flight Test

An update on hypersonic vehicle development in India:

India is planning to conduct the first flight trial of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) in the next 12 to 18 months, according to Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) officials.

The HSTDV programme aims to produce a hydrocarbon-fuelled scramjet test article capable of Mach 6-7 and autonomously guided flight. The HSTDV will pave the way for a hypersonic cruise missile and platforms that can perhaps be applied to other tasks, such as very high-speed reconnaissance.

According to DRDO sources, initial ground tests with the kerosene-fuelled scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) have been completed and the propulsion system is now being integrated with the air vehicle.

Read the full story.

India Plans Hypersonic Vehicle Tests By Early Next Year

DRDO likely to test fly hypersonic plane by early next year
Brahmand.com

DRDO expects to test fly India’s indigenous hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HSDTV) by early next year, the defence agency’s Chief V K Saraswat said Friday.

“We have conducted ground testing of the vehicle for nearly 20 seconds. It has performed well. We are hopeful to flight test it by early next year at Mach 6-7 speed,” Saraswat told reporters during Aero India 2011…

(more…)

U.S. Lifts Export Restrictions on ISRO, DRDO

US removes ISRO, DRDO from export control list
Deccan Herald

Fulfilling a promise made by President Barack Obama in November, the US has removed nine Indian space and defence-related companies from the so-called Entity List to drive hi-tech trade and forge closer strategic ties with India.

(more…)

U.S. Moves Forward on Lifting Curbs on ISRO, DRDO

U.S. likely to lift ban on ISRO, DRDO soon
The Hindu

The U.S., which imposed curbs on trade with defence entities like ISRO and DRDO following India’s nuclear tests in 1998, has set in motion regulatory changes to lift the ban soon, thus fulfilling a commitment made by President Barack Obama.

A formal notification to lift the ban by the U.S. Department of Commerce for this purpose is in advanced stage, top U.S. officials said.
(more…)

India Taking Step-by-Step Approach to Developing Hypersonic SSTO

Brahmand.com takes a look at India’s step-by-step approach to developing reusable hypersonic launch vehicles:

The RLV will loft a satellite into orbit and immediately re-enter the atmosphere and glide back for a conventional landing. The RLV and the rocket booster will be recovered separately, with the former making a conventional landing on a runway and booster making a parachute landing.

(more…)

India to Build New Hypersonic Wind Tunnel

DRDO to invest in Rs1,000-crore defence avionics facility
domain-b.com

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) plans to invest around Rs1,000 crore [$220 million] in Hyderabad over the next five years to boost missile production and build a world-class hypersonic wind tunnel facility to serve the growing demands of strategic systems.

While a sum of Rs600 crore [$132 million] would be invested on expansion of missile production which is being taken up in collaboration with Bharat Dynamics Limited, another Rs350 crore [$77 million] would be made available towards the setting up of the wind tunnel.

The wind tunnel would be used to test systems for missiles, aircraft and re-entry vehicles flying at hypersonic speed – (above Mach 5) as against the present facilities to test vehicles of speed up to Mach 5.

Read the full story.

Indian, Chinese Rivalry Complicates U.S. Space Diplomacy

I found an interesting article that looks at the delicate balance that the United States must keep as it attempts to expand cooperation in space with both China and India, whose fierce rivalry for dominance in Asia is spilling over into the building of geo-positioning systems, ballistic missile defense, and satellite-killing spacecraft.

China’s determination to hold the option of denying the use of space-based capabilities to other states was illuminated in its successful test of an anti-satellite weapon in January 2007, eliminating an old Chinese weather satellite. Building upon this experience, Beijing conducted its first ballistic missile defense (BMD) test on 11 January 2010.

(more…)

Obama Paves Way for Deeper Cooperation With India

ISRO's PSLV-C15 rocket
ISRO's PSLV-C15 rocket lifts off with five satellites aboard on July 12, 2010.

Curbs on DRDO, ISRO go
Deccan Herald

US President Barack Obama on Saturday made the much-awaited announcement of taking important Indian defence and space research institutions like the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Hyderabad-based Bharat Dynamics Limited off the high-tech ban list.

Speaking at an Indo-US business meeting, Obama said the “dual-use” rules, by which high-tech exports by American manufacturers to the DRDO and ISRO are banned, would be amended and updated. The “dual use” refers to technology that can be utilised for both civilian and defence purposes.

(more…)