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Russia dismisses U.S. concerns about missile test, danger to ISS crew

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches NASA's third crew to the International Space Station at 9:03 p.m. November 10 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo by Joe Marino/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 16 (UPI) -- The Russian government responded on Tuesday to U.S. accusations that a missile test in space that blew apart an old satellite has endangered the lives of several astronauts on the International Space Station.

Russia confirmed that it performed a missile test to destroy a satellite that's been in orbit for almost 40 years, but rejected accusations that the resulting debris poses a threat to the ISS crew.

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U.S. officials called the test "reckless" and "irresponsible," saying that a large piece of debris colliding with the space station moving almost 18,000 mph could be extremely dangerous.

The ministry also said that the "unconditional safety" of the ISS crew is the top priority

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"The United States knows for certain that the resulting fragments did not represent and will not pose a threat to orbital stations, spacecraft and space activities in terms of test time and orbit parameters," Russia's defense ministry said in a statement.

Seven astronauts are on board the International Space Station, including four who arrived only last week. Photo courtesy of NASA

Russian officials said the test was done to strengthen defense capabilities.

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The missile test, which was conducted Monday, destroyed the satellite and created more than 1,500 pieces of debris. U.S. officials are concerned that some of the fragments could hit the space station and endanger seven astronauts on board.

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Russian officials also noted that similar tests have been done by the United States, China and India.

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, was scheduled to meet Tuesday with NASA representatives in Moscow.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that the test demonstrates Russia's willingness to jeopardize "long-term sustainability of outer space."

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