4th after USA, Russia, China to enter space super league
NEW DELHI: After shooting down a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite with its indigenously developed Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) weapon, India is now a reckoning space power, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his address to the nation.
On March 27, at 11:16 am, India successfully launched its A-SAT weapon that targetted an Indian satellite which had been decommissioned and was orbiting an LEO at a height of 300 km from Earth's surface. DRDO's Ballistic Missile Interceptor, a part of the ongoing ballistic missile defence programme, was deployed.
This 'technological mission' was carried out by DRDO from Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Island launch complex in Odisha. The team of scientists was able to accomplish the task of locating, destroying and confirming the destruction of said satellite within three minutes.
Mission Shakti deserves celebration as this is the first time that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology. Rightly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that this is 'a proud moment' for Indians. A-SAT weapons play a crucial role in locating, intercepting and destroying incoming satellite that may threaten national security. However, the sphere of space weapons is contentious. Strict guidelines are enforced under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, of which India is a signatory.
The treaty strongly prohibits the use of weapons of mass destruction in space. However, with its A-SAT weapon, India has been careful to not overstep any points of the treaty. India has also expressed support to the substantive consideration of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) in the Conference on Disarmament, where it has been on agenda since 1982.
Clearly, India's intent is less offensive and more a defensive tool of strengthening national security and propelling the development of greater space technology. Earlier, China's test in 2007 received widespread criticism from the global community, which iterated that the Dragon's attempt to launch A-SAT weapons had "serious consequences of engaging in the militarisation of space".