Two US satellites had to be maneuvered in the past year to avoid colliding with debris left in space after China’s anti-satellite test on Jan. 11, 2007, The Washington Times reports. Ground controllers repositioned the Orbcomm FM 36 commercial communication satellite in April 2007 so that it would not pass “within about 123 feet” of the debris field, the newspaper reported on the one-year anniversary of the Chinese test, citing information provided by the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif. Similarly, the NASA Earth observation satellite Terra was moved in June 2007 “to avoid coming within about 90 feet of the debris,” the newspaper states. The Chinese used a direct-ascent missile to ram one of its old weather satellites, spreading a lingering cloud of debris in orbit. While the United States decried the test, some lawmakers believe that too little is being done in the aftermath to protect U.S. space assets. “It should have been a call to action, yet a year later, our policies and strategies do not reflect our increasing dependence on space,” writes Rep. Terry Everett, (R-Ala.) in an op-ed in The Washington Times on Jan. 11. “We need a comprehensive space protection strategy, says Everett, ranking member on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces panel.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.