US Vice President Kamala Harris Monday announced that the US would no longer conduct direct-ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile testing and would seek to establish this as the norm around the world.
Harris, speaking at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, said the US would seek to work with other countries to end the practice, which she described as “destructive.” Russia carried out such a test last November, while China conducted a similar test in 2007. She said the debris from destroying these satellites harms other satellites orbiting the earth and hinders the use and exploration of space by all nations.
“It is clear there is strong interest among our international partners to develop these norms,” Harris said. “We must write the new rules of road. And we will lead by example.”
She noted how much society relies on satellites — not just for security but to coordinate critical infrastructure, track the weather and transmit media. She said that debris the size of a basketball could destroy a satellite, while debris the size of a grain of sand “could cause serious damage.”
Harris said the US is the first country to commit to ending anti-missile testing and that it would work with commercial industry, allies and partners to end the practice globally. In the US, establishing such norms will be done through collaboration between the National Security Council, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and other national security agencies.
Harris suggested that the Artemis Accords — an international agreement between nations to return humans to the moon by 2025 — provides a road map for putting together such an agreement. Eighteen nations are currently signed on.
“As we move forward, we will remain focused on writing new rules of the road to ensure all space activities are conducted in a responsible, peaceful, and sustainable manner,” she said.