- India joined an elite club of nations who possess an anti-satellite technology. The technological mission, named Mission Shakti, was led by DRDO with an aim to strengthen India’s overall security. Experts say, the capability of attacking a satellite in a orbit closer to Earth will give a tactical weapons edge to the country.
Outer Space Treaty, 1967:
- The Outer Space Treaty,formally the Treaty on Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies, is a treaty that forms the basis of international space law.
- The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destructionin outer space, not ordinary weapons.
- 108 countriesare parties to the treaty, while another 23 have signed the treaty but have not completed ratification.
- The exploration and use of outer space shall be carried out for the benefit and in the interests of all countriesand shall be the province of all mankind.
- Given the prohibitively expensive nature of space projects, India and other countries must utilise the increased presence in space to legitimately advance the well-being of their people
Anti-satellite missile test (ASAT):
- It is the technological capability to hit and destroy satellites in spacethrough missiles launched from the ground.
- Scientists and engineers at Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) launched a missile from the Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Islandlaunch complex near Balasore in Odisha that struck a predetermined target: a redundant Indian satellite that was orbiting at a distance of 300 km from the Earth’s surface.
Significance of Mission Shakti:
- Satellites are used by countries for navigation, communicationsand also for guiding their missile weaponry.
- The ability to bring down an enemy’s missile, therefore, gives a country the capability to cripple critical infrastructure of the other country, rendering their weapons useless.
- Though the United Statesand the then Soviet Union both tested anti-satellite missiles way back in the 1970s at the height of the cold war, never has any country brought down the satellite of any other country, either during a conflict or by mistake.
- During the tests, countries target their own satellites, those which are no longer in usebut continue to be in the space.
- A detailed statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) confirmed that an Indian satellite had been used for the test, but did not specify which satellite it was.
- PM Modi was careful to state that India’s test was a “defensive” move, aimed at securing its space infrastructure, and does not change India’s strong opposition to weaponisation of space