NEW DELHI: India on Wednesday destroyed a low earth orbiting (LEO) satellite in a missile test that puts the country in the space “super league”, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the nation.
“India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti,” the Prime Minister tweeted later.
He said the action was not directed against any country and the satellite was a pre-determined target orbiting at an altitude of 300km.
The pM did not say who owned the satellite but added that India does not breach any international laws or treaties.
Mission Shakti, which was led by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), was aimed at strengthening India’s overall security, he said in his address that comes a fortnight before the start of the general election.
“#MissionShakti 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 our space programme,” the PM said.
“Shooting down a low earth orbit satellite is a rare achievement for the country,” he said.
The “entire effort is indigenous. India’s stands tall as a space power. It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony”, he added.
India’s success comes a good 12 years after China tested a similar technology, and India has become only the fourth country to have such a technology, with the US and Russia being the other two. While Wednesday’s test is pegged as a major success, India has been working on this technology for at least a decade.
Avinash Chander, former DRDO chief who was instrumental in building the organisation’s missile capabilities said: “This is an extension of the DRDO’s long-range ballistic missile programme of the extra-atmospheric interception. While we had been working on this technology for long, the current programme was initiated some time recently.”
Scientists with DRDO said the project had not got the final sanction under the previous UPA government. Chander further explained that unlike the Agni-V and the long-range anti-ballistic programme, bringing down a satellite has several other challenges.