New Delhi: India has shot down a low-earth orbit satellite in space, propelling itself into an elite club of nations, which has mastered this anti-satellite (ASAT) missile technology, said PM Narendra Modi in his address to the nation on Wednesday. PM Modi, however, was quick to point out the intent of DRDO's "Mission Shakti" is to defend India’s space assets and not to start any arms race in space. Since there are no treaties governing the use of ASAT, India is not in violation of any international conventions.
Mint looks at what is Mission Shakti why it is path-breaking:
1. The use of ASAT is seen as crossing new frontier just like India’s 1998 nuclear tests. Anti-satellite technology has so far been in the hands of very few countries: the United States, Russia and China. The acquisition and demonstration of this technology make India a member of an elite group of countries.
2. The fact that this anti-satellite technology is indigenously developed adds to India’s credentials, given that for many decades India was kept away from acquiring key technologies, forcing the country to develop its own space and nuclear capabilities.
3. The anti-satellite space technology shows India’s focus on security challenges, emanating beyond Pakistan. “The ASAT weapon is likely to be the most potent military tool for the armed forces over the next few decades, notwithstanding a revolutionary technological breakthrough," according to Arvind K. John, analyst with New Delhi-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation.
4. The acquisition of this technology is expected to have spin-offs that India can exploit for commercial use, both domestic and globally.
Having developed its own vehicles for commercial satellite launches, today India is launching satellites of other countries. There was a time it used to piggyback on French-made launch vehicles such as the Ariane.
“This technological achievement will have many spin-offs that we can exploit for civilian commercial use," said a government official who did not want to be named.
5. Coming as it does after the surgical strikes against Pakistan in 2016 and the Balakot air strike last month, Mission Shakti is expected to burnish the nationalist credentials of PM Modi and the National democratic Alliance (NDA), which has been putting emphasis on indigenously developed technology, skills and enterprise.
Several of the government's programmes such as the Atal Innovation Mission stress the importance of scientific discoveries and inventions at the school and other levels.