Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had shot down a satellite in space on Wednesday with an
anti-satellite missile (ASAT).
The operation, termed as
‘Mission Shakti’, was entirely indigenous and was completed within three minutes of the launch, making India the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China, said Modi.
Anti-satellite weapons have been in the foray since the Cold War era when the former USSR, now Russia, demonstrated its space defence power. Following which the United States build its own anti-satellite weapon in the 50s.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is responsible for developing India’s weapons such as strategic ballistic missiles like ‘Agni,’ was behind the development of the ASAT that was launched by India.
ASAT requires a number of technologies related to space-based sensors, synthetic aperture radars, electronics, sound navigation system, guidance and control, and global positioning systems. A number of different types of sensors, including infrared sensors, optical sensors, electronic-optical sensors, and magnetic sensors are vital to monitor, detect, and help in sensing the events.
ASATs are equipped with a homing vehicle, which when detached from the missile destroys the satellite by direct collision, rather than by detonation of a warhead – a concept known as ‘hit-to-kill’.
The military potential of such satellites is manifold in the areas of communication, navigation, and signal intelligence. Any country that has the capability to build its own ASATs, has an upper hand at the time of war as it can track and destroy the enemy satellite, communicate with troops or access vital information.The world’s second largest economy and India’s neighbour, China already possesses anti-satellite missiles. On January 11, 2007, China successfully destroyed a defunct Chinese weather satellite, FY-1C.