India enters an elite club after scientists shoot down a low orbit satellite 300 km away in space

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s PSLV-C42 carrying two foreign satellites, NovaSAR and S1-4, lifts off from first launchpad of Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2018.Photo/R Senthil Kumar)
  • Indian scientists shot down a low orbit satellite 300 km away in space, says Prime Minister Modi.
  • India is the fourth country to wield anti satellites after US, Russia and China.
  • This feat will be used only for security, peace, and development, reassures Modi.
  • No international covenant has been broken, according to the Indian PM.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi revealed that country's scientists shot down a low orbit satellite 300 km away in space.

"Just a few minutes ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite on the LEO (Low Earth Orbit). They achieved it in just three minutes," he said without clarifying to which country the satellite shot down belonged to. The anti-satellite missiles were developed in India.

However, Modi went on to reassure the international community that India will only use this new capability for its own security and development and that no international covenant has been broken in today's action.

Anti-satellite missiles are space weapons designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. For example, to bring down spy satellites. China successfully tested its own anti-satellite missile in 2007 after four failed attempts.

"India has demonstrated a deterrence capability," space scientist Ajay Lele told the state-owned network Doordarshan. "It is unlikely that India would have raised the ante against any other country at this stage," he said adding that the scientists must have shot down its own satellite.

An outer space treaty does not allow using weapons of mass destruction in the space, Lele explained. "A similar test by China in 2007 has left behind a lot of debris which is still floating around," Lele said.

With the successful test launch of the Agni-V missile in 2012, India demonstrated the capability and technology to launch anti-satellite weapons but the government had not approved the development of such systems, former DRDO chief V K Saraswat told the Indian Express in April 2012.

"Today, India has established itself as a space power," Modi said in a televised address on Wednesday (march 27). "Until now, only US, Russia and China could claim the title. India is the fourth country to achieve this feat," he added.

India has a variety of satellites that are contributing to different sectors like weather, broadcasting, navigation, education, agriculture, aside from security. "Today's anti-satellite missiles will give a new strength to the country both in terms of security and development" Modi said.