Russia's anti-satellite space weapons test condemned by Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton

The International Space Station was threatened by debris from the exploded Russian satellite. Picture: Shutterstock
The International Space Station was threatened by debris from the exploded Russian satellite. Picture: Shutterstock

The Australian government has joined a chorus of nations in condemning recent Russia's counter-space weapons testing, including blowing up a defunct Soviet signal intelligence satellite into more than 1500 pieces of space debris that threatened other satellites in orbit.

The blast occurred on Tuesday, Australian time, forcing the International Space Station crew to shelter in capsules. The weapons test was immediately condemned by United States senior officials as "recklessly conducted", but not acknowledged by Russia until Wednesday.

A statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense described the test as "the destruction of an inactive Russian space apparatus" and posed no risk to the ISS or other orbiting bodies. Earlier in the day Russian officials denied any test took place, the Interfax news agency reported.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the test was a provocative and dangerous act.

"The world increasingly relies on space for security, public safety, communications and commerce," Mr Dutton said in a statement on Wednesday.

"This test by Russia, combined with other recent counter-space weapons testing, calls into question Russia's sincerity in promoting security in space."

Mr Dutton said the test demonstrated that threats to space systems were real, serious and growing.

The governments of Germany and France also condemned the weapons test for contributing to the militarisation of space.

Australia's space sector has been growing with government's attention on its information and cyber warfare capability and commercial opportunities.

The civilian space agency head has also warned the threat of space debris and anti-satellite capabilities from the United States, Russia, China and India, with more countries developing the technology, with academics urging Australia to step into the role of negotiators for space as a domain of peace.


The development of international norms and responsible behaviour in space has been underway with Australia's current space partners include Canada, Germany, France, New Zealand, the UK and US.

Australia was open to working with all nations on ensuring long-term sustainability, safety and security of the space domain, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne added on Wednesday.

"Russia's actions are not those of a nation committed to ensuring the peaceful use of space nor the prevention of an arms race in outer space," Senator Payne said.

In late 2020, the United Nations adopted a resolution on reducing space threats through norms, rules and principles of responsible behaviours, with Australia urging that a future key principle be that nations agree to not create further permanent debris fields in space.

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This story 'A provocative and dangerous act': Australia responds after Russia admits to space blast first appeared on The Canberra Times.