THE acting US defence secretary has warned that the testing of anti-satellite [ASAT] weapons can create a ''mess'' in space after India destroyed one of own satellites one recent Wednesday.

Patrick Shanshan said the US still studying the Indian test, which Delhi insisted it carried out in low earth orbit to not leave space debris.

India is the fourth country to have carried an ASAT test. China provoked an international alarm with a similar test in 2007.

''My message would be we all live in space, let's not make it a mess. Space should be place where we can conduct business. Space is a place where people should have the freedom to operate,'' Mr. Shanahan told reporters after India's test.

Debris from such tests can harm civilian and military satellite operations, and collide with other objects in space.

But India said that it had intentionally carried out its ''Mission Shakti'' test in the lower atmosphere    -at an altitude of 300km [186 miles] - to ensure that there was no debris and that whatever was left would ''decay and fall back into the earth within weeks''.

''That's why we did it a lower altitude, it will vanish in no time,'' G. Satheesh Reedy, the chief of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation, told Reuters in an interview.

''The debris is moving right now. How much debris, we are trying to work out, but our calculations are it should be dying within 45 days.''

Some experts have cast doubt on Indian claim.

The US military is monitoring more than 250 pieces of debris from the Indian test. Reuters news agency quoted a pentagon spokesman as saying.

The US carried out the first ASAT test in 1959.

China's 2007 test ''which destroyed a defunct weather satellite at an altitude of 865km - left a large debris cloud in the orbit. Nasa has also warned of the risk of debris following the Indian test.

''Some people like to test anti-satellite capabilities intentionally and create orbital debris fields that we today are still dealing with,'' the US space agency's chief  Jim Bridenstein told Congress.


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