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Space debris

Space Warfare

In January 2007, China caused international alarm when it confirmed that it had carried out an anti-satellite test. A carefully-targeted ground-based missile knocked out an aging Chinese weather satellite about 860 km above the Earth.

An immediate concern was that, in a future war, China might destroy enemy satellites (e.g. American spy satellites). But the test also produced thousands of fragments, adding a huge amount of space debris to useful near-Earth orbit regions of space.

 Read more about the Chinese test, and responses from other countries  here.

Do you think there should be a legal ban on anti-satellite tests? If an international law banned such tests, could the law be enforced?

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Diagram showing the trajectory of the anti-satellite missile

A satellite is shot down. Click to enlarge

Orbits of space debris

Space debris a month after the Chinese anti-satellite test. The white orbit represents the International Space Station.