Russia responded after the US accused it of endangering astronauts in a space explosion.
It was said to have conducted an anti-satellite weapon test that destroyed an old and long-defunct Soviet satellite. But she denied the test ever put anyone in danger.
This was followed by allegations from the United States that the explosion resulted in a huge field of debris containing hundreds of thousands of satellite pieces that may have collided with the International Space Station.
Fearing what would happen if this cloud of debris collided with the floating laboratory, the crew – both US and Russian teams – were forced to take shelter in their spaceship in an emergency.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the test was ruthless, posed a threat to the ISS and a Chinese spacecraft in orbit, and showed that Russia was developing new weapon systems. A British government spokesman condemned the test and urged Moscow to participate in discussions at the United Nations on “responsible behavior in space”.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the debris from the test posed no threat to the ISS, and Washington knew this.
“The Russian Defense Ministry successfully conducted a test on November 15 that hit the non-operational Russian Tselina-D spacecraft, which has been in orbit since 1982,” it said in a statement.
The US, China and India were said to have run similar tests in the past.
Russia is being forced to strengthen its defense capabilities as the US and Washington are set to create a space force in 2020.
Moscow said it had been calling for a deal for years to stop the use of weapons in space, but Washington and its allies had blocked the deal at the United Nations.
Officials of the US space agency NASA will attempt to discuss tests of anti-satellite weapons during a trip to Moscow on Wednesday, the Russian news agency RIA quoted the NASA chief as quoting on Tuesday.
Additional coverage from Reuters