NEW DELHI: India achieved a major milestone on Wednesday morning in its defence capabilities in space by shooting down a low earth orbit satellite using an anti-satellite (ASAT) missile. Calling the operation Mission Shakti, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the earth-shattering announcement on Wednesday afternoon in an address to the nation while congratulating the Defence Research and Development Organisation scientists involved in developing the anti-satellite missile technology which is possessed only by the United States of America, Russia and China.
"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. On 27 March 2019, India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of Mission Shakti," he said.
The low orbit satellite was in an orbit 300 kilometres above the earth when the missile successfully shot it down bringing India at par with the above-mentioned countries in terms of space defence. The Prime Minister also announced that Mission Shakti was an indigenous effort and all the capabilities for the anti-satellite missile were developed in the country.
"The main objective of Mission Shakti was to demonstrate to the world its capabilities which are purely defensive in nature and are not against any country. This mission is about the economic and technological development of the country. Mission Shakti was a highly complex one and it was conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision. It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of our space programme," said PM Modi.
The successful test of the ASAT missile gives India the ability to target enemy satellites in space as well as other objects which can be used to launch an attack on the country.
The PM, however, said that while the A-SAT missile will give new strength to India's space programme, he assured that the international community that the capability won't be used against anyone. "It is purely India's defence initiative for its security. We're against arms raised in space. This test won't breach any international law or treaties," he said.
"India's achievements in the space sector is to maintain the security of the country. India does not believe in war. The success of the mission will help us in preparing ourselves for future challenges. We need to make adapt new technologies to make our future secure. We aim to make Indians feel secured. Together, we will build a safe, secure and prosperous India," he said.
USA, Russia and China, the major military powers, developed ASAT capabilities several years ago and can target satellites in space using direct-ascent and co-orbital missile systems. The USA operationalised the system to shoot down a satellite in space in the early 1960s, while Russia (then the USSR) has had the ASAT capability since 1970s. China joined the club in January 2007 with India storming into the elite list on 27 March 2019.