India shoots down own satellite in test - GulfToday

India shoots down own satellite in test


Students celebrate after India shot down a low-orbiting satellite as part of a successful test of a new missile technology in Ahmedabad. Agence France-Presse

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation on Wednesday morning to announce that India has successfully tested an anti-satellite missile. “We’ve joined the space super league where other nations are US, Russia and China,” he announced.

A low-orbit satellite was downed within just three minutes with the anti-satellite missile, Modi said. “We’ve demonstrated our technical power.” “There can be no greater pride for the country,” Modi said.

“This is a big moment for India. Something that all of us should be proud of. We are not just capable to defend on land, water and air, but now also in space. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation,” he added.

“India has entered its name as an elite space power. An anti-satellite weapon, A-SAT, successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit (LEO),” he said.

He said Mission Shakti is an important step towards securing India’s safety, economic growth and technological advancement.

The prime minister said, “A-SAT missile will give new strength to India’s space programme. I assure the international community that our capability won’t be used against anyone. It is purely India’s defence initiative for its security. We are against arms raised in space. This test does not breach any international law or treaties.” He highlighted that the entire effort is indigenous.

“India stands tall as a space power,” he said. “India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised and modern capability.” Modi had tweeted earlier that he would address the nation with an “important message.” It is unusual for a Prime Minister to address the nation in the middle of the campaign for the national election next month, when a code of conduct is in place. The Model Code of Conduct says that misuse of official mass media during the election period for partisan coverage of political news and publicity regarding achievements with a view to furthering the prospects of the party in power shall be scrupulously avoided.

“Today I would be addressing the nation at around 11:45 AM - 12.00 noon with an important message. Do watch the address on television, radio or social media,” Modi had tweeted.

Speculation peaked as it emerged that he had met top ministers in the cabinet security panel at his residence in the morning.

“This is a fantastic capability to have and it gives us a deterrence in case our adversaries try to militarise the space or try to prevent us from using our existing space capabilities,” said former defence research chief and NITI Aayog member Dr VK Saraswat.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman offered her cheer to the scientists.

A spokeswoman for the US mission in Geneva, which handles disarmament issues, had no immediate comment.

UNITED STATES A PIONEER The United States ran the first anti-satellite test in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new.

Bold Orion, a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile repurposed to attack satellites, was launched from a bomber and passed close enough to the Explorer 6 satellite to destroy it if the nuclear warhead had been live.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the Soviet Union tested a weapon that would be launched into orbit, approach enemy satellites and destroy them with an explosive charge, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In 1985, the United States tested the ASM-135, launched from an F-15 fighter, destroying an American satellite called Solwind P78-1.

There were no tests for more than 20 years, until China entered the anti-satellite arena in 2007.

The following year, the United States used a ship-launched SM-3 missile to destroy a defunct spy satellite in Operation Burnt Frost.

Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government has taken a strong position on national security, launching air strikes last month on a suspected militant camp in Pakistan that spurred retaliatory raids.

Although he faces criticism for failing to deliver on high economic growth and create jobs, a hawkish position on security should help Modi at the ballot box, pollsters say.

The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, congratulated defence scientists but took a dig at Modi for the announcement on a day that commemorates theatricals.

Resmi Sivaram/ Agencies