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Nation special report

LONDON: India successfully targeted a live satellite on a low earth orbit with an anti-satellite weapon on Wednesday which was denounced by Pakistan and also raised concern by the US.

Pakistan issued a call against military threats in outer space, hours after India said it had shot down one of its own satellites in a demonstration of its growing power in space.
“Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.“We hope that countries which have in the past strongly condemned demonstration of similar capabilities by others will be prepared to work toward developing international instruments to prevent military threats relating to outer space.”
“Boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote’s tilting against windmills,” it said, in a reference to the delusional hero of the 17th-century Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes.

Foreign Minister’s spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal said in his weekly briefing in Islamabad on Thursday that Pakistan terms missile tests by India in space a threat to world nations. “Missile test conducted by India in space is sheer breach of international laws. Space is common inheritance of all human beings. Such tests will pose threats to the world nations..

US concerned

The US State Department on Wednesday said Washington has taken note of India’s statement on ‘Mission Shakti’ while voicing concern over the issue of space debris.

“The issue of space debris is an important concern for the U.S. government. We took note of Indian government statements that the test was designed to address space debris issues,” read a statement issued by the US State Department.

The statement mentioned that as part of its partnership with India, the US will continue to pursue shared interests in space, and scientific and technical cooperation, including collaboration on safety and security in space.

“The State Department saw PM Modi’s statement that announced India’s anti-satellite test. As part of our strong strategic partnership with India, we will continue to pursue shared interests in space and scientific and technical cooperation, including collaboration on safety and security in space,” it noted.

Indian action

On Wednesday, India’s anti-satellite weapon A-SAT successfully destroyed a satellite on a low earth orbit, joining a group of three countries – the US, Russia and China – with such capability.”India has entered its name as an elite space power. It is the fourth country to achieve this feat after the US, Russia and China. The ‘Mission Shakti’ operation was a difficult target to achieve, which was completed successfully within three minutes of the launch,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said in an address to the nation.

New Delhi, March 27 (ANI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses to the nation in New Delhi on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

The Prime Minister also assured the international community that this test does not violate any international treaty or law and that India remains committed against the arms race in space. 

“Today’s A-SAT missile has given new strength to security and vision of the country. We want to assure the world that our new capability is not against any country but is the defensive initiative of a fast-moving India. India has always been against the arm race in space and this operation hasn’t changed that. This does not violate any international treaty or law,” he said.

The Prime Minister said India has enough satellites that are contributing in various segments such as agriculture, disaster management, communication, weather, and navigation.

Major achievement

According to the details, in a major defence achievement, India on Wednesday successfully tested an anti-satellite missile by shooting down its own decommissioned satellite that was on a ‘Low Earth Orbit’ at a height of 300 KM from the earth’s surface.

Giving details of the test of `Mission Shakti (strength)’, Prime Minister Modi said that in the LEO, the satellite was a pre-decided aim. “It was successfully shot down in just three minutes and the operation culminated immediately. The feat required high technical expertise and capability. The scientists have achieved the entire decided target. This valour was achieved through indigenously built anti-satellite missile.”

Outlining the space prowess of India, the Prime Minister added: “We have different satellites which are contributing in various sectors including weather forecast, education, medical, navigation etc. Our satellites are helping all including farmers, fisherman, students. In the world, the significance of space and satellite is going to increase and they may become indispensable to life.”

Prime Minister Modi mentioned that today’s test was not in any way violation of any international treaty or law. “Today’s A-SAT missile has given new strength to security and vision of the country. We want to assure the world that our new capability is not against any country but is the defensive initiative of the fast-moving India. India has always been against the arms race in space and this test hasn’t changed that. This successful violates no international treaties or law,” he said.

“We are using the modern technique for the welfare and security of our 130 crore citizen. For peace and secure atmosphere, a strong India is significant. India’s work in the space category is aimed at India’s security, economic development and technological advancement. Today’s `Mission Shakti’ is an important step in achieving this dream. Today’s success should be seen as our step forward towards a secure, prosperous and peaceful country,” Prime Minister emphasised.

Target destroyed

Government sources revealed to ANI that the A-SAT weapon was launched around 11:16AM on Wednesday and targeted an Indian satellite which had been decommissioned and was orbiting on a ‘Low Earth Orbit’ at a height of 300 KM from the earth’s surface. The entire test, with confirmation of target elimination, took 3 minutes.

The project announced by Prime Minister Modi in a televised address as “Mission Shakti” was coordinated by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman G. Satheesh Reddy and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval along with officers of the National Security Council.

The missile was launched from the DRDO’s testing range in Odisha’s Balasore. At the time of testing of the A-SAT missile, G. Satheesh Reddy was camping in Balasore to see the project through. 

Range of A-SAT

The Chairman of the Defence and Research Organisation (DRDO) that developed the A-SAT or anti-satellite missile which was tested successfully on Wednesday, rejected speculative reports that the A-SAT was a derivative of the Prithvi ballistic missile family.

In an exclusive interview to ANI, DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy said that this was a new missile developed specifically as an anti-satellite weapon. “The missile has technologies developed for ballistic missile defence applications, particularly the kill vehicle,” said Reddy. He added that in addition to this, rocket motors developed in missile complexes, were all integrated to make a new A-SAT missile.

The A-SAT missile was launched at approximately 11:16 AM on Wednesday from Odisha’s Balasore and within three minutes of launch, it successfully hit the intended target, a de-commissioned Indian satellite, in a ‘Low-Earth Orbit’ at roughly 300 km from the Earth’s surface.

When asked the reason behind choosing a 300 km-altitude range for the target, Reddy said that protecting nearby space assets had to be considered. “As a responsible nation, we wanted to be sure all space assets were safe and all the debris decayed fast,” added Reddy.

However, the A-SAT missile had capabilities of targeting all ‘Low-Earth Orbit’ satellites. “It has a range of upto a 1000 Kilometres plus,” revealed Reddy to ANI. 

This sort of missile application enables a country to attack and disrupt enemy satellites, thereby affecting communication networks. India’s A-SAT missile was an indigenous build.

“The NSA (Ajit Doval) whom we report to on strategic matters gave the direction to go ahead with the test and he had the concurrence from the Prime Minister. The development started a few years back and we went into mission mode in the last 6 months,” said the DRDO Chairman in an exclusive interview to ANI. He added that 100 scientists worked round-the-clock to meet their intended date of launch. (ANI)

Destroying capability

Former DRDO Chief Controller and Research Development, W Selvamurthy has lauded the organisation for the successful test of India’s first anti-satellite weapon – A-SAT. He said India has the capability to destroy assets of other countries in space if they play any mischief.

“It’s a great accomplishment for the country. Thanks to the central government which supported the whole event as well as whole Mission Shakti. I also congratulate the staff of DRDO. I have been a part of DRDO for 40 years,” Selvamurthy told ANI here.

Anti-satellite weapons or A-SAT are space weapons designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Although no A-SAT system has yet been utilised in warfare, a few nations have shot down their own (defunct) satellites to demonstrate their A-SAT capabilities in a show of force. Before India successfully tested A-SAT weapon, US, Russia, and China have demonstrated this capability successfully. (ANI)