Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test by India, was conducted on March 27, 2019. India is the 4th country after the US, Russia & China that have successfully tested A-SAT missile. This has made India 4th Space super Power in the world. The technology was indigenously developed and tested by India’s DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization). The launch took place from Balasore, Odisha. The missile engaged and destroyed a decommissioned Indian satellite in the Lower Earth Orbit at an altitude of nearly 300 km. Anti-satellite weapons are used to destroy enemy satellites which are considered a threat to our country.
- Low Earth Orbit is equal to an altitude up to 2,000 km. An LEO satellite can potentially monitor ground and water surfaces and can be used for spying which compromises the country’s security.
- It is important to note that though the target Indian satellite of India’s ASAT test was hit at a range of 283 km, the missile is actually capable of shooting down hostile objects moving at 10 km per second at a far higher altitude of nearly 1200 km.
- It has been made clear by India that the intent of the test is to defend India’s space assets and not to start an arms race in space.
- The USA and China have expressed their concerns over peace in outer space. The USA has been particularly worried about the debris of the destroyed satellite left in orbit after the test. Debris in space can cause safety hazards to space stations and other projects. But, India has ensured that the debris will fall back to earth in a matter of weeks due to it being in LEO.
- The anti-satellite space technology shows India’s focus on security challenges, emanating beyond Pakistan.
- The most important international Treaty on space is the ‘1967 Outer Space Treaty’. India signed this treaty and ratified it in 1982. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only the use of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons.
- India is a part of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Mission Shakti will not have any effect on India’s status in the MTCR or other such treaties.
Why Shakti Program initiated?
- India has always advocated the peaceful use of outer space but, the fact remains that space is increasingly being used by countries, particularly the US and China, for military purposes.
- China, which has made a giant stride in space capability, operates nearly 70 military satellites in orbit, which perform the tasks of communication, ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Communication) and navigation.
- Given this reality of the military utility of outer space, it is only logical that India exploits its new capability in the fourth domain of warfare to further national security interests, which forced the need to stand at the same height in regards to other world superpowers.
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