DRDO’s ASAT Missile, Mission Shakti

India has entered its name as an elite space power with the successful targeting of a live satellite on a low earth orbit using an anti-satellite weapon (A-SAT). The operation was named ‘Mission Shakti’ which successfully achieved its difficult target within three minutes of its launch. On March 27, 2019, India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from the Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Island. This was a technological mission carried out by DRDO. The satellite used in the mission was one of India’s existing satellites operating in lower orbit. The test was fully successful and achieved all parameters as per plans.

The DRDO’s Ballistic Missile Defence interceptor was used, which is part of the ongoing ballistic missile defence programme.

Space technologies are constantly evolving. We have used the technology that is appropriate to achieve the objectives set out in this mission. The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.

  The Test: India has a long-standing and rapidly growing space programme. It has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government has sanctioned the Gaganyaan Mission which will take Indians to outer space.  India’s space programme is a critical backbone of India’s security, economic and social infrastructure. The test was done to verify that India has the capability to safeguard our space assets. It is the Government of India’s responsibility to defend the country’s interests in outer space.

The tests were done after we had acquired the required degree of confidence to ensure its success, and reflects the intention of the government to enhance India’s national security. India has seen an accelerated space development programme since 2004. India has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space. We have always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. We are against the weaponization of Outer Space and support international efforts to reinforce the safety and security of space-based assets. India believes that Outer space is the common heritage of humankind and it is the responsibility of all space-faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all.

India is a party to all the major international treaties relating to Outer Space. India already implements a number of Transparency and Confidence Building Measures(TCBMs) – including registering space objects with the UN register, prelaunch notifications, measures in harmony with the UN Space Mitigation Guidelines, participation in Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination (IADC) activities with regard to space debris management, undertaking SOPA (Space Object Proximity Awareness and COLA (Collision Avoidance) Analysis and numerous international cooperation activities, including hosting the UN-affiliated Centre for Space and Science Technology Education in Asia and Pacific. India has been participating in all sessions of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. 

 

International law on weapons in outer space. The principal international Treaty on space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. India is a signatory to this treaty and ratified it in 1982. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons. India expects to play a role in the future in the drafting of international law on prevention of an arms race in outer space including inter-alliance on the prevention of the placement of weapons in outer space in its capacity as a major space-faring nation with proven space technology. India is not in violation of any international law or Treaty to which it is a Party or any national obligation.

The test is not directed against any country. India’s space capabilities do not threaten any country and nor are they directed against anyone. At the same time, the government is committed to ensuring the country’s national security interests and is alert to threats from emerging technologies. The capability achieved through the Anti-Satellite missile test provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long-range missiles and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles.

 

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