Senators say U.S. must strengthen space debris monitoring

Senators say U.S. must strengthen space debris monitoring
Senators say U.S. must strengthen space debris monitoring Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2021
By Reuters
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By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON -A group of U.S. senators on Tuesday asked the Biden administration to do more to monitor and respond to space debris following Russia’s anti-satellite test.

Commerce Committee chair Maria Cantwell, ranking Republican Roger Wicker and two other senators asked Vice President Kamala Harris and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo about debris issues. The Russian test, which created over 1,500 new objects, has drawn U.S. condemnation.

"This test provides a stark reminder that the United States must strengthen its capabilities to monitor and respond to space debris," the senators wrote, adding the test "raises concerns about maintaining the long-term sustainability of the space environment."

A spokeswoman for Harris declined to immediately comment, while the Commerce Department did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

On Tuesday, NASA indefinitely postponed a spacewalk planned for Tuesday by two astronauts outside the International Space Station, citing a "debris notification" for the orbiting research laboratory.

The letters, which were also signed by the chair of the subcommittee overseeing space issues, John Hickenlooper, and the top Republican Cynthia Lummis urged Harris to address protecting the space environment during Wednesday’s meeting of the National Space Council. Harris chairs the council.

"We request that you advocate for aligning space sustainability priorities and activities across the federal government and work to develop international dialogue on norms of responsible behavior in space," the senators wrote.

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