On March 27, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appeared on television just past noon to announce that India has demonstrated anti satellite missile capability. India can now destroy satellites in space. The programme has been dubbed Mission Shakti.
Since only three other countries have previously demonstrated such capability, the achievement was celebrated by many Indians.
India becomes 4th nation to possess an ASAT weapon after US, Russia and China.
India launched a mission to test its anti satellite capabilities, becoming the fourth country in the world to have a potent armoury that can bring down satellites to protect its rapidly growing space programme.
India conducted its first anti satellite (ASAT) missile test, successfully destroying a low earth orbit satellite in space by using a missile which covered a distance of 300 km to engage the target.
The target was a live satellite which was flying in a low earth orbit. The missile travelled a distance of almost 300 km from earth and hit the target within three minutes of its launch,” PM Narendra Modi said.
Scientists told that the ASAT missile is among the most complex tests carried out by India and can be considered even more advanced than the development of submarine-launched missile systems which was the last big breakthrough in Indian missile technology.
“The new capability we have developed is not directed against anyone. India has always been opposed to the weaponisation of space and an arms race in outer space, and this test does not in any way change this position,” PM Narendra Modi said.
Officials said as per India’s understanding, the test does not violate any international law or treaty obligation and is much less harmful than the Chinese ASAT test in 2007 that led to a large scale scattering of debris in space that threatened other satellites. “The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris.
Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks,” a government statement read, adding that India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space.
PM Narendra Modi described the test as being critical to protect Indian interests in space that has become a critical part of our day to day lives’.
“From the point of view of India’s security and economic development, today’s ASAT missile will give the country new strength,”
DRDO said that the test, called ‘Mission Shakti’, was carried out from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha and the interceptor was a three stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.
“Tracking data from range sensors has confirmed the mission met all objectives,” officials said, adding that the ‘hit to kill’ method was considered as the effective way to knock off a satellite in space. The Indian position is that the ASAT test has provided ‘credible deterrence’ against threats to space based assets from long range missiles.
“Mission Shakti operation was a difficult target to achieve but was completed successfully within three minutes of launch,” PM Narendra Modi said.
The tests also send a strong message of deterrence to countries like China, that carried out a similar exercise first time in 2007 and the latest one last year.
Targeting and destroying satellites of the enemy can completely halt communication systems of a country and during a conflict, this would mean the enemy could fail to use its missiles or drones.
ASATs are space weapons can destroy satellites for strategic military purposes.
Amid India’s rapidly growing space programme that has picked up speed in the last five years such deterrence is much needed.
India has undertaken 102 spacecraft missions consisting of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, experimental satellites, navigation satellites, apart from satellites meant for scientific research and exploration, academic studies and other small satellites.
India’s space programme is a critical backbone of India’s security, economic and social infrastructure.
The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology.
India has a long standing and rapidly growing space programme that has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government sanctioned Gaganyaan Mission, which will take Indians to outer space.
The test was done to verify that India has the capability to safeguard our space assets.
The intention of the government to enhance India’s national security. India has seen an accelerated space development programme since 2014.
India believes that outer space is the common heritage of human kind and it is the responsibility of all space faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all.
India carved its name among the elite club of four nations with a demonstrable capability of countering satellites in the space. Russia, China and the US are the other three nations.
According to experts, this space exercise will act as a deterrent especially against China, since it could increase the cost of aggression for any entity thinking of using space systems for the purposes of threatening.
In absolute terms, India’s spending on space research almost tripled from Rs 4,163 crore in 2009 -10 to Rs 11,538 crore in 2018-19, going through a trough in between.