U.S. military reports 'debris-generating event' in outer space
Milky Way Galaxy (shutterstock.com)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Monday that it was aware of a "debris-generating" event in outer space and one official said it appeared that Russia had carried out an anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons test.

Experts say anti-satellite weapons that shatter their targets pose a space hazard by creating a cloud of fragments that can collide with other objects, which in turn can set off a chain reaction of projectiles through Earth orbit.

"We are actively working to characterize the debris field and will continue to ensure all space-faring nations have the information necessary to maneuver satellites if impacted," U.S. Space Command said in a statement.

A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said initial reports were that Russia had carried out an ASAT test over the weekend.

The Russian military and ministry of defense were not immediately available for comment.

The United States performed the first anti-satellite tests in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new.

Last April Russia carried out another test of an anti-satellite missile as officials have said that space will increasingly become an important domain for warfare.

In 2019, India shot down one of its own satellites in low-Earth orbit with a ground-to-space missile.

The U.S. military is increasingly dependent on satellites to determine what it does on the ground, guiding munitions with space-based lasers and satellites as well as using such assets to monitor for missile launches and track its forces.

These tests have also raised questioned about the long-term sustainability of operations in space that are essential to a huge range of commercial activities, including banking and GPS services.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali. Additional reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by David Gregorio)