PM Modi says India tests anti-satellite weapon

PM Modi says India tests anti-satellite weapon

A salesman watches Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing to the nation, on TV screens inside a showroom in Mumbai, India, March 27, 2019. (REUTERS)

India on Wednesday shot down a satellite at an altitude of 300 km using a ballistic missile that struck the space-platform in a “Hit to Kill” mode, marking the country's entry into an elite club of four nations that have the anti-satellite (ASAT) capability.

“India accomplishes Mission Shakti and becomes the fourth space power after USA, Russia and China with an indigenous anti-satellite missile hitting a live satellite target in a low earth orbit of 300 km. It was an extremely difficult operations that was done in 3 minutes,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an unusual address to the nation.

The test that required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability demonstrates India's ability to to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology.

“DRDO successfully conducted an anti-satellite missile test Mission Shakti from the Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha. A Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in low earth orbit in a ‘Hit to Kill’ mode. The test demonstrated India's capability to defend its assets in outer space,” a DRDO spokesperson said in a statement.

The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. Tracking data from range sensors has confirmed that the mission met all its objectives.

Government sources said the test was carried out in lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris because whatever debris is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.

The last such test, carried out by China in January 2007, not only triggered condemnation from all over the globe due to weaponisation of the space, but generated widespread concerns about debris too among space faring nations, which feared such stray debris could turn out to be dangerous to operational satellites.

Neither Modi nor the government officials disclosed the identity of the target satellite, but it very well could be a tiny DRDO payload known as Micro-TD satellite launched two months ago. The 130 kg satellite was placed in a 327 by 368 km orbit.

Modi said India was always against weaponisation of space but Wednedsay's test was carried out to show that Indian armed forces have the ability to hit at a satellite in the space in case of any need.

The surprise announcement came just two weeks before the beginning of the Parliamentary polls. A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security preceded the announcement.