Image on the left is an AP photo of space shuttle astronauts (from left) Mark Kelly, Deke Slayton, Michael Collins and Melvin Werner Hifley executing a maneuver to ensure their safe landing in November 1983. Credit: AP
Russia is dismissing U.S. allegations that its astronauts were threatened by a ballistic missile fired by North Korea last week. The U.S. has charged that the unnamed missile fell inside North Korea and that either Russian or American soldiers were present. If true, it would put relations between Russia and the U.S. at their lowest point since the Cold War. The timing, too, is particularly sensitive: NASA’s next long-duration mission to the International Space Station is set to launch aboard a Russian rocket in just a few weeks.
“We are sure this is nonsense. We have shown clearly to the International Space Station’s crew that our missiles can be guided and controlled. The range of targets of this missile was [around] 1,000 kilometers in distance,” a spokesperson for Russia’s Mission Control told NBC News. (The spokesperson could not confirm whether or not this is what Russian President Vladimir Putin was referring to when he said, during a phone call with President Trump on Monday, that the missile was fired from “a population center,” another potentially incendiary allegation from the U.S. But given that the exact source of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is a point of great sensitivity for both sides, it’s difficult to imagine that someone would dispute it would take a long-range missile to miss a spot like Russia’s Kaliningrad region.)
According to the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, a ballistic missile fired from inside North Korea was intercepted by a U.S. Aegis-class destroyer off the coast of Japan early Friday. Whether or not the missile fell within North Korea was “subject to review and analysis,” according to the Missile Defense Agency.
“As of noon ET, China and South Korea are both closed for public holidays,” said NBC News. “However, Pyongyang is marking the end of July with a massive parade, and it’s possible that some government officials could claim a safe landing if authorities there were to move to cover it up.”
Read the full story at NBC News.
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