This has been labelled a “terrible thing” by the head of NASA. The satellite shattered into pieces, many of which are dangerously large but too small to track. “That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight,” Jim Bridenstine said. The US military tracks objects in space to predict the collision risk for the ISS and for satellites. It is tracking 23,000 objects larger than 10cm. That includes about 10,000 pieces of space debris.
As a result of the Indian test, the risk of collision with the ISS has increased by 44% over 10 days. India’s ministry of external affairs said at the time of the launch the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there was no space debris. “Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back on to the Earth within weeks,” it said. There are estimated to be about 900,000 pieces of debris larger than a marble in orbit around the Earth, according to statistical models cited by the European Space Agency.