US slams Russian anti-satellite missile test

The United States has condemned Russia for conducting a weapons test that generated space debris and jeopardized the lives of astronauts on the International Space Station.

US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price told reporters on Monday that Russia conducted a test using a missile to destroy one of its own satellites.

He said the test has generated over 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris that threaten the interests of all nations.

Price added that the test will "significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station."

US space agency NASA released a statement saying that due to the debris "ISS astronauts and cosmonauts undertook emergency procedures for safety." It said the crew had to shelter in their spacecraft for about two hours.

The US Space Command criticized Russia in a statement on Monday. Commander Gen. James Dickinson said, "Russia is developing and deploying capabilities to actively deny access to and use of space by the United States and its allies and partners."

The US, China and India have conducted similar tests to destroy satellites in the past.

Jonathan McDowell at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said the debris field will spread over the next several months. He noted that the risk of debris hitting Earth will increase for several years.