India records its name as 4th elite space power: PM Modi

RNS: 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. ‘Mission Shakti’ operation was a difficult target to achieve which was completed successfully within three minutes of launch, said PM Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Wednesday (27 March 2019).

Modi announced that the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) developed anti-satellite system A-SAT successfully destroyed a live satellite in the Low Earth Orbit. He described it as a “rare achievement” that puts the country in an exclusive club of space superpowers.

With this test (Mission Shakti) India is only the fourth country after the U.S., Russia and China to have the technology. The satellite was about 300 km away from earth but no details were shared regarding its ownership and what the satellite was used for and what were the reasons for choosing that particular satellite for the test.

The Indian satellite that was shot down was a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. These are satellites roughly at an altitude of 2,000 kilometers from the earth and that’s the region where the majority of satellites are concentrated.

The A-SAT weapons are missile-based systems to attack moving satellites. So far the United States, China and Russia were the only ones who’ve reported the ability to shoot down space objects from ground or airborne sources.

According to the media reports, the anti-satellite weapons came back into popular currency after China conducted an anti-satellite missile test on January 11, 2007. The government officially confirmed this only on the January 23, after reports in several US media. The development of such systems has a long history — fuelled by the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union — with waxing or waning of funding. There are different kinds of systems — those that can be launched from the ground or those vaulted from planes.

In the Cold War/Space Race era, 1985 was the last time that the United States had used an anti-satellite system to destroy its P-781 satellite that had instruments aboard to study solar radiation.

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