- The rules of global engagement were rewritten by India after downing a satellite in low earth orbit on March 27 and adding space to its strategic lexicon.
- With it, India became the 4th nation to possess an ASAT weapon after US, Russia and China.
Mission Shakti is a joint programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- The interceptor
missile,launched was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters.
- The ground-based radars guided the missile until the heat shield is separated following which it would heat-seek the target.
- It was carried out from Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Island, formerly known as Wheeler Island, an island off the coast of Odisha.
Concern of Space Debris:
Anything whichis launched into the spaceremains in space,unless it is brought down or it slowly disintegrates over decades or centuries.
- Satellites that are decommissioned or no longer used remains aimlessly in the
orbit whichlater on becomes the part of Space Debris.
- These space debris pose a threat to the operational
satellites,since it can collide with them leaving them dysfunctional.
- Since Mission Shakti was done in LEO, there would be very less debris and whatever debris that is generated will decay and burn out on entering the earth atmosphere in 45 days – DRDO Chief Satish Reddy said.
- The indigenous technology was available with the DRDO since 2012 to neutralise hostile satellites in low earth and polar orbits.
- In 2011, a modified Prithvi missile mimicked the trajectory of a ballistic missile with a 600-km range.
- With the help of radars, the information was passed on 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. But it was given no go-ahead.
ASAT ( Anti- Satellite system ):
- They are missile-based systems that is designed to destroy or incapacitate satellites.
- It is of 2 kinds— based on launching from the ground or from planes.
- They were present during the Cold War hostilities between the United States and the Soviet Union.
- Later on 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite missile test to destroy a Chinese weather satellite — the FY-1C – that sailed at an altitude of 865 km.
- United States, next year launched ‘Operation Burnt Frost,’ to intercept and destroy a non-functioning U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite named USA-193.
Low Earth Orbit satellite:
- The satellite that was shot down was a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) decommissioned satellite.
- These are satellites roughly at an altitude of 2,000 kilometres from the earth and that’s the region where the most of the satellites are concentrated like: India PiSat, ResourceSat 2, Radar Imaging Satellites 1and2 and SRMsat.
Why India needs a technology like ASAT is needed?
- With the advancement into Space India, now it has to safeguard it’s assets which are orbiting and operational in space.
- Along with India many countries are advancing their technologies in Space too, so this technology would help in protection against enemy infrastructure, without causing any threat to human lives.
International treaties Regarding Outer Space
- Mission Shakti will not have any effect on India’s status in the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) or other such treaties.
- Apart from India’s support to UN resolution on No First Placement of Weapons on Outer Space, there are many other treaties which it should follow.
- The principal international treaty on space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. India already is signatory to the treaty and ratified in 1982.
- It prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons.
- UN Transparency and Confidence Building Measures(TCBMs)-It includes registering space objects with the UN register, pre-launch notifications etc. India already such information with UN.
- Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) is an international governmental forum for the worldwide coordination of activities related to the issues of man-made and natural debris in space.
- India participates in IADC-activities with regard to space debris management, undertaking SOPA (Space Object Proximity Awareness and COLA (Collision Avoidance) Analysis.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the A-SAT test was not directed against any country and that India plans to play a role in future in drafting global laws on prevention of arms race in outer space.
The Ministry reiterated India’s support of Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) in the Conference on Disarmament “where it has been on the agenda since 1982.
Source: The Hindu