What’s Mission Shakti?
On March 27, 2019 India conducted Mission Shakti, an anti-satellite missile test, from the Dr A.P.J Abdul Kalam Islandlaunch complex. 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 test required an extremely high degree of precision and technical capability.
The significance of the test is that India has tested and successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology.
India has successfully demonstrated its capability to intercept a satellite in outer space based on indigenous technology. India now joins a select group of nations — USA, Russia and China — with a similar technology.
What are India’s capabilities so far?
While ‘Mission Shakti’ may have targeted an object in outer space, India has long developed the ability to intercept incoming missiles. In 2011, a modified Prithvi missile, mimicked the trajectory of a ballistic missile with a 600-km range. Radars at different locations swung into action, tracking the “enemy” missile, constructing its trajectory and passing on the information in real time to the Mission Control Centre (MCC) to launch the interceptor, an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) missile. It had a directional warhead to go close to the adversarial missile before exploding to inflict damage on it.
What are Low-Earth Orbit satellites?
The Indian satellite that was shot down was a Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite. These are satellites roughly at an altitude of 2,000 kilometres from the earth and that’s the region where majority of satellites are concentrated. A database from the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non government organisation based in the United States, says that there are at least 5 known Indian satellites in LEO: India PiSat, Resourcesat 2, Radar Imaging Satellites 1 and2 and SRMsat.
Why did we do the test?
India has a long standing and rapidly growing space programme that has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government sanctioned Gaganyaan Mission, which will take Indians to outer space.
India has undertaken 102 spacecraft missions consisting of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, experimental satellites, navigation satellites, apart from satellites meant for scientific research and exploration, academic studies and other small satellites. 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.
DRDO’s ballistic missile defence interceptor was used. India used Kinetic Kill, a space technology in which India has developed capability.
The principal international treaty on space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. India is a signatory and ratified it in 1982. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space. India expects to play a key role in the drafting of an international law on prevention of arms race in outer space.