India shoots down own satellite; PM hails India's arrival as 'space power'

Narendra Modi biopic slammed as propaganda by opposition ahead of Indian election

India has shot down a satellite in a missile test which makes the country a "space superpower", Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said. India joins United States, Russia, and China on the list of anti-satellite equipped countries.

The test makes India the fourth country, after the United States, Russia and China, to test an ASAT weapon.

Taking a jibe at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailing the anti-satellite test as a major breakthrough in its space programme, the FO spokesperson quipped that "boasting of such capabilities is reminiscent of Don Quixote's tilting against windmills". Until now, only three countries in the world had achieved this feat. The foreign ministry statement said India carried out its test in the lower atmosphere to ensure there was no debris and whatever was generated would "decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks".

The acting secretary held up the test as an example of why the working to create a stand alone Space Force, focused on military needs in space.

Anti-satellite missiles were first tested by the United States in 1959.

Meanwhile, Nair said India possessed the required technology for such a mission in 2007, when China shot down an ageing weather satellite. "We will give Rs 3.60 lakh crore in the bank accounts of the poor", he said. "However, converting it to an anti-satellite technology needs a much higher speed where you have 5-10 seconds to hit something coming in at 10 km a second".

Modi went on to assure that these ASAT missiles will not be used for destructive purposes, but only for security and defence. For example, to bring down spy satellites. "In this light, India's successful "kill" with an ASAT weapon is significant", said Brahma Chellaney, a security expert at New Delhi's Centre of Policy Research.

The US Defense Intelligence Agency claimed in its February report that Russian Federation might be developing laser weapons for destroying satellites in orbit and for incapacitating missile shield orbital system sensors.

While India has laid claim to space dominance with this test, the Prime Minister stressed that his government was not in favour of a space arms race. That weapon has yet to be tested against a live satellite target. Air strikes ordered by Modi last month targeting a militant camp in Pakistan led to retaliatory raids by Islamabad, escalating tensions between the two regional nuclear rivals.

The main opposition Congress party, whose leader Rahul Gandhi is challenging Modi, congratulated scientists on their "groundbreaking achievements".

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