India displays its shakti: Unveils weapon that can kill satellites with missiles

It was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that India had joined the elite club of space powers by shooting down a low-earth orbit satellite with an anti-satellite missile (A-SAT).

“In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today.. something 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,” the PM said in an unprecedented broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media to announce the success of what he called “Mission Shakti”.

“Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 km away in space, in low-earth orbit. India has made an unprecedented achievement today. India registered its name as a space power,” Mr Modi said, and asserted that the action was not directed against any country and that the satellite was a predetermined target.

The A-SAT missile test, conducted by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha, gives India the rare capability to cause havoc to an enemy country by disrupting its telecom network, Internet services, GPS crucial for navigation of ships in seas, financial system and radars.

It also gives India the ability to destroy spy satellites and disrupt an enemy nation’s capability to launch missiles and drone attacks on the country by blinding them. Moreover, it will provide deterrence against any attempt by any nation to hit Indian satellites in space through long-range missiles.

“The entire effort is indigenous. India stands tall as a space power. It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony,” Mr Modi said, and added India is the fourth country to have tested such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.

The test provides the technology base for intercepting ballistic missiles crucial for India’s security as it is surrounded by two hostile nuclear states — Pakistan and China —which have well-developed missile systems.

China had demonstrated this capability first time in 2007 and India needed to create a deterrent to save its growing space assets.

A DRDO-developed ballistic missile defence interceptor missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in low-earth orbit in a “hit to kill” mode. It was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. “Tracking data from range sensors has confirmed that the mission met all its objectives,” said DRDO.

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