The US has condemned Russia for conducting a “dangerous and irresponsible” missile test that it says endangered the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
The test blew up one of Russia’s own satellites, creating debris that forced the ISS crew to shelter in capsules.
The station currently has seven crew members on board – four Americans, a German and two Russians.
The space station orbits at an altitude of about 420km (260 miles).
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he was outraged at the incident.
Russian space agency Roscosmos downplayed the incident.
The wayward material passed by without incident, but its origin is now under the spotlight.
It appears to have come from a broken-up Russian satellite, Kosmos-1408. A spy satellite launched in 1982, it weighed over a tonne and had ceased working many years ago.
LeoLabs, a space debris-tracking company, said its radar facility in New Zealand had picked up multiple objects where the long-defunct spacecraft should have been.
Ben Wallace, UK Defence Secretary, said the test “shows a complete disregard for the security, safety and sustainability of space”.