Russia sparks ISS panic after ‘reckless’ missile launched into space: ‘US WILL respond’

China launches first three-man crew to new space station

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A spokesperson for the US State Department has confirmed the anti-satellite test generated more than 1,500 pieces of fast-moving debris, sparking an emergency on the orbital lab. The cloud of debris came uncomfortably close to the ISS, prompting its seven astronauts to seek shelter in their return capsules. Although the emergency has now been declared over, NASA Mission Control said some of the space station’s hatches will have to remain closed through Tuesday.

Travelling at speeds of more than 17,000mph, even tiny satellite fragments can punch through the ISS like a hot knife through butter.

According to Ned Price of the US State Department, Russia has launched an anti-satellite missile aimed at one of its own satellites.

The target may have been the Soviet-era Cosmos 1408 satellite that was launched in 1982.

Mr Price said: “This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities.

“Russia’s dangerous and irresponsible behaviour jeopardizes the long term sustainability of outer space, and clearly demonstrates that Russia’s claims of opposing the weaponization of space are disingenuous and hypocritical.

“The United States will work with our allies and partners to respond to Russia’s irresponsible act.”

Following the incident, the ISS astronauts were debriefed by Mission Control on what to expect in the coming 24 hours.

Mission Control told the astronauts: “It’s a crazy way to start a mission.”

NASA: International Space Station captured passing the sun

NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who is presently in charge of the orbital lab, responded: “We’re looking forward to a calmer day tomorrow.”

The astronauts have been informed of a number of expected transits or flybys of the debris cloud.

One of these transits occurred at about 5.55pm GMT.

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