The US will enter a self-imposed moratorium on anti-satellite missile tests. Vice President Kamala Harris called out other countries to follow the US lead while making the announcement.
Harris said the US would end “destructive, direct-accent” anti-satellite weapons tests. “As of today the United States commits not to conduct destructive, direct-ascent, anti-satellite missile testing. Simply put, these tests are dangerous and we will not conduct them. We are the first nation to make such a commitment. I call on all nations to join us,” the vice president said.
While the ban would eliminate some of the space-based weapons tests, it would not ban all anti-satellite testing. According to Politico, “the announcement does not include other less destructive ASAT weapons, such as “co-orbital” — which use another spacecraft to interfere with a satellite in orbit — or electronic jamming and computer hacks.”
It is unclear if the Arrow-3 missile interceptor system will fall within the test ban. The weapon is being jointly developed by the US and Israel and is intended to target missiles in low orbit. However, the Arrow-3 is also capable of hitting satellites. The US tested the missile interceptor as recently as January.
The US, India, Russia, and China have all conducted anti-satellite tests over the past few decades. The tests are responsible for causing some space debris that can be dangerous to people or other objects in space.
Russia destroyed a satellite during a test in November. The US claimed the test irresponsibly endangered the crew of the International Space Station with its debris.
The announcement comes after the White House proposed a record Space Force budget for 2023.