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Russia tests DA-ASAT missile

Russia has conducted a direct ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile test against the retired Cosmos 1408 electronic intelligence (ELINT) low Earth orbit satellite, according to the UK-based satellite tracking company Seradata.

“The missile appears to have been launched from Plesetsk in Northern Russia at around 0630 on the morning of 15 November,” David Todd, head of space content at Seradata told Janes in an interview. “Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a DA-ASAT missile against one of its own satellites,” the US State Department confirmed in a briefing later that day.

After the explosion of the satellite at least 1,500 pieces of trackable debris were observed with hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces of orbital debris, according to the US State Department. Cosmos 1408 was a retired Tselina-D class ELINT satellite that was launched in 1982, according to the Seradata SpaceTrak launch and satellite database.

“The satellite's last orbit was at an apogee of 487.3 km and a perigee of 461.8 km (487.3 km × 461.8 km), with an inclination of 82.6 degrees, which is close to a polar orbit,” Todd added. The International Space Station (ISS) was on a similar orbit with a profile of 424 km × 418 km, which put it around 60 km below the Cosmos 1408, Todd said.

This caused the international crew of the ISS, which includes Russian personnel, to take shelter in their spacecraft as they passed through the debris field. The ISS has also conducted an emergency orbital move in order to avoid a debris field, however, it is not yet clear if this was related to the ASAT test.

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