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Shakti - Indian ASAT (Anti-Satellite)

India’s Defense Research and Development Organization carried out the first attempt to destroy a satellite in low-earth orbit on 12 February 2019, By Ankit Panda reported in The Diplomat on March 30, 2019. The test took place from Abdul Kalam Island off the eastern coast of India. According to U.S. government sources with knowledge of military intelligence assessments, the US observed a failed Indian anti-satellite intercept test in which the solid-fueled interceptor “failed after about 30 seconds of flight,” one source told The Diplomat.

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) issued by Indian civilian authorities with effect between February 10 and February 12 demarcated a restriction zone off the eastern coast of India that matches the restriction zone described in another NOTAM issued ahead of the March 27 test attempt, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 27 March 2019 announced that India had demonstrated anti-satellite (ASAT) missile capability by shooting down a live satellite. Addressing the nation, the Prime Minister said India’s action was not directed against any country. Shooting down a low earth orbit satellite is a rare achievement for the country, he said. The satellite was orbiting at an altitude of 300 km, he said, describing India as a space power.

ShaktiMission Shakti, which was led by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, was aimed at strengthening India’s overall security, Modi said. The word "Shakti" is Sanscrit for power, ability, strength, might, effort, energy, or capability. It may mean creative or generative power, or any power or energy proceeding from a higher center to a lower one. Shakti properly speaking is the "active principle'' the power or energy of the divine nature in action. The word is used for the female energy of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, or other deity, personified as the wife of the god. Each manifestation of the God has a shakti to suit it. Thus Vishnu as Krishna has Radha, as Rama Sita, while Shiva in his peaceful aspect has Parvati and in his character of the destroyer Kali or Durga. It will also be found that the female counterpart of the god is the more important of the two, and is attributed with most power.Shakti is also the hideous goddesses propitiated by offerings of wine and flesh. When Shaktism is spoken of it usually means the worship of Devi, that is of the Shakti of Shiva. She has endless forms ranging from the peaceful one of Annapurna, the goddess who supplies food, to the savage blood demanding Durga or Kali.

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) director general and scientific adviser to the defence minister V.K. Saraswat told India Strategic magazine in April 2013 that India was not working on an ASAT (Anti-Satellite) missile. ASAT technology had been developed by the US, USSR and China.

In January 2007, China demonstrated its capability to destroy satellites by conducting an anti-satellite test. China’s ASAT test had posed two dimensions of threat to international space community. One is, its capability to conduct the ASAT test (to kill a satellite in outer space) and other being the creation of debris cloud, as an after effect, in the low earth orbit, above 175 km. This ASAT test was very strongly criticized by many nations, as it created a large number of debris in the low earth orbit region above 175 km, which is mostly used for remote sensing and scientific satellites by the space faring nations, including the International Space Station. The Indian remote sensing satellites are also placed in this region (600 km to 900 km polar orbit). Thus the polluted space environment has been posing a threat not only to Indian satellites but also to the global community.

The prime minister had advertised his address to the nation on Twitter, calling it an important message. “Do watch the address on television, radio or social media,” he said, setting off speculation across the country on what the topic was likely to be. Modi said an Anti-Satellite Missile (A-SAT) destroyed the live satellite within three minutes. He said the Mission Shakti operation was a difficult target to achieve which was completed successfully. The Prime Minister said, with this, India has registered herself as a space power today and till now only US, Russia and China have achieved this.

He said, now India is the fourth country to achieve this feat. Prime Minister said, Mission Shakti was a highly complex one, conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision. It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of India's space program. Congratulating all DRDO scientists for achieving this unparallel feat, Modi termed Mission Shakti is a huge success. He said, today's Mission Shakti aimed at strengthening India's overall security. Modi said the A-SAT missile will give new strength to India's space programme. He also assured the international community that India's capability will not be used against anyone but is purely India's defence initiative for its security. It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony.

Modi aid that in line with the "Make in India" initiative, the scientists have given a message to the world that we are less than no one. The Prime Minister said that India follows the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam - the world is one family. He however, also emphasized, that the forces which work for peace and goodwill, must remain ever-powerful, for the achievement of peace.

The Prime Minister asserted that for global peace and regional peace, India should be capable and strong. He said that the scientists have contributed to this effort with dedication. He also conveyed the greetings of the entire Union Cabinet to the scientists.

President Ram Nath Kovind said, Mission Shakti represents a watershed moment for the country. He said, testing of the Anti-Satellite Missile demonstrates India's scientific prowess and commitment to harnessing space technology for the security and empowerment of the people. Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said, with the successful launch of an anti-satellite missile, the country has emerged as a space superpower in the world. Mr Naidu said, everyone is proud of the achievement of Indian space scientists.

Minister of State for Space and Atomic Energy Dr Jitendra Singh said, it is a proud moment for every Indian as India turns into a tech-military power in Space, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said, today is a historic day for the country, especially for scientists, who achieved the potential that only 3 countries had in the world. Briefing media in New Delhi, Mr Jaitley said, it was a long time ago that the Indian scientists had a desire and they had said that the scientists have this capability to launch Mission Shakti but the government of that time did not allow. He said, with this India's strength will not only increase, but also the ability to keep peace in this area will also increase.He said, the space sector that has been successful today is the result of hundred percent Indian efforts.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi congratulated DRDO saying that the country is extremely proud of their work. Congress leader Ahmed Patel claimed that the UPA government had initiated the ASAT programme which has reached fruition today. Mr Patel congratulated space scientists and the visionary leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Defence Research and Development Organisation, DRDO successfully conducted an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile test, Mission Shakti from Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Island in Odisha. A DRDO - developed Ballistic Missile, Defence Interceptor Missile successfully engaged an Indian orbiting target satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) in a Hit to Kill mode.

The interceptor missile was a three-stage missile with two solid rocket boosters. Tracking data from range sensors has confirmed that the mission met all its objectives. The test demonstrated the nation’s capability to defend its assets in outer space. It is a vindication of the strength and robust nature of DRDO’s programs. With this India has joined a select group of nations, which have such capability. The Ministry said the test proved the capability of indigenous weapon systems.

Indian defence scientists are readying a weapons system to neutralise enemy satellites operating in low-earth orbit, a top defence scientist said in January 2010. "India is putting together building blocks of technology that could be used to neutralise enemy satellites," Defence Research and Development Organisation Director General VK Saraswat told reporters on the sidelines of the 97th Indian Science Congress. However, he added that the defence scientists have not planned any tests but have started planning such technology which could be used to leapfrog to build a weapon in case the country needed it. “The kill vehicle, which is needed for intercepting the satellite, needs to be developed, and that work is going on as part of the ballistic missile defense program,” said V.K. Saraswat.

Bharath Gopalaswamy and Gaurav Kampani wrote in 2011 that "The Indian military's wish list for an operational ASAT capability is also unlikely to be met for three reasons. First, it is not apparent that China poses an immediate operational threat to Indian space assets. Second, civilian agencies such as ISRO and DRDO have historically enjoyed far greater influence than the military in shaping strategic research and development choices. And finally, Indian political leaders are likely to find a hedge and demonstrate strategy less controversial and more economically viable. Thus an Indian ASAT program will more likely constitute a shadow capability in the short-term. "

Dr. Lora Saalman notes that the Chinese "... seem overly concerned about possible Indian ASAT programme. The extent of their worry seems a tad bit disproportionate to the pronouncements one hears about Indian intentions on this matter. Based on what is available in the public domain, one understands that there are no active programmes to pursue its development, and any capabilities accumulated are a natural outcome of India's other Missile programmes. Would this concern, then, arise out of something they may've "stumbled upon"?"

Bharath Gopalaswamya and Ting Wang wrote in 2010 that "India has recently stated an intention to develop an anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. The reasons for this may include the country’s growing economic and political clout, alongside the increasing importance of space to this status, the significance of space assets to the military, a perceived threat from China, and fear of being disadvantaged in future treaty negotiations if not ‘in the club’. Nevertheless, development and use of an ASAT would have potentially catastrophic debris-related consequences that would also create major political problems for the user."

In 2014 Gp Capt R K Singh highlighted "the necessity and urgency of Indian ASAT, as a strategic deterrence, to counter the threat to our space assets from the Chinese ASATs."



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