2019 Indian anti-satellite missile test

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On 27 March 2019, the Republic of India announced that it had destroyed a "live satellite" in Low Earth orbit.[1] Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi happening to be India's Space Minister as well, addressed the nation to announce about Mission Shakti, the name attributed to the test.

Launch of Indian ASAT, interceptor derived from Indian anti ballistic missile.

The interceptor was able to strike a test satellite at a 283-kilometre (176 mi) altitude in low earth orbit (LEO), thus successfully testing its ASAT missile. The interceptor was launched at around 05:40 UTC at the Integrated Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur, Odisha and hit its target after 168 seconds. Microsat-R was the suspected target of the test.[2][3][4] The missile system was developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)—a research wing of the Indian defence services.[5] With this test, India became the fourth nation with anti-satellite missile capabilities. As per DRDO, missile was capable of shooting down enemy targets moving at a speed of 10 km per second at an altitude as high as 1200 km. However, in order to minimize the threat of debris, the interception was performed against an object moving at 7.4 km per second at an altitude below 300 km.[6]

Background[edit]

Indian ASAT program utilized spin off technologies from Indian ABM systems. India is known to be developing a multi layered and multi phased missile defence against enemy ballistic and cruise missiles. The exo atmospheric interceptors which have to be used against ICBMs which have lofted trajectories and are at high altitudes, can also be used to intercept satellites as well.[7]

In wake of threats from missile systems from China and Pakistan, India began to work on its BMD program in 1999. [8] In 2006 and 2007, India tested its first exo atmospheric interceptor Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) and endo atmospheric interceptor Ashwin/Advanced Air Defence respectively.[9] In 2009, India began to work a new exo atmospheric interceptor called Prithvi Defense Vehicle (PDV) similar to THAAD. [10]

In a televised press briefing during the 97th Indian Science Congress in Thiruvananthapuram, the Defence Research and Development Organisation Director General Rupesh announced that India was developing the necessary technology that could be combined to produce a weapon to destroy enemy satellites in orbit. On 10 February 2010, DRDO Director-General and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Dr. Vijay Kumar Saraswat stated that India had "all the building blocks necessary" to integrate an anti-satellite weapon to neutralize hostile satellites in low earth and polar orbits. India is known to have been developing an exo-atmospheric kill vehicle that can be integrated with the missile to engage satellites.[11] In April 2012, DRDO's chairman V. K. Saraswat said that India possessed the critical technologies for an ASAT weapon from radars and interceptors developed for Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Programme.[12] In July 2012, Ajay Lele, an Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses fellow, wrote that an ASAT test would bolster India's position if an international regime to control the proliferation of ASATs similar to NPT were to be established. He suggested that a low-orbit test against a purpose-launched satellite would not be seen as irresponsible.[13]

In 2014, India carried out the maiden test of PDV.[14] First real time interception test was carried out against a maneuvering target in 2017, followed by another test in 2019.[15][16] In 2017, India had lost contact to one of its key imaging satellites, RISAT-1.

In 2016, Indian Government gave nod for Project XSV-1 for ASAT test.[17] Modified version of PDV similar to midcourse ground-based inteterceptor, officially named PDV MkII was tested against a small satellite on 27 March 2019. India however maintains that it shot down a "live" satellite, there is no statement specifying the satellite. The suspected target for the ASAT test was Microsat-R.

DRDO has also been working on directed energy weapons, electromagnetic pulse and co-orbital weapons for ASAT roles.[18]

Aftermath[edit]

In a statement released after the test, Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that the test was conducted at low altitude to ensure that the resulting debris would "decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks".[19][20]

According to Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, some debris might persist for a year, but most should burn up in the atmosphere within several weeks.[21] Brian Weeden of Secure World Foundation agreed, but warned about the possibility of some fragments getting boosted to higher orbits. US Air Force Space Command said that it was tracking 270 pieces of debris from the test.[22] A Dutch Space Situational Awareness consultant Marco Langbroek disputed DRDO's claim that the test was responsible. He said that the intercept was not "head on", which would have minimized debris ejection to higher altitudes, but was instead conducted at an upwards angle.[23] He added that most of the debris would be cleared within days, but some might last a year or two.[24]

Reactions[edit]

Following the test, acting United States Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan warned about the risks of space debris caused by ASAT tests, but later added that he did not expect debris from the Indian test to last.[25][26] The United States Department of State acknowledged Ministry of External Affairs' statement on space debris and reiterated its intention to pursue shared interests in space including on space security with India.[27] Jim Bridenstine, the head of NASA, called Indian ASAT test a "terrible thing", pointing out that debris from the explosion endangers other satellites and the International Space Station.[28]

Russia acknowledged India's statement on the test not being targeted against any nation and invited India to join the Russian–Chinese proposal for a treaty against weaponisation of space.[29] Chinese Foreign Ministry in response to a question stated that it has noticed reports and hopeful that each country will uphold peace in outerspace.[citation needed]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Solanki, Lalit (27 March 2019). "India Enters the Elite Club: Successfully Shot Down Low Orbit Satellite". The Mirk. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  2. ^ "India says space debris from anti-satellite test to 'vanish' in 45..." Reuters. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Explained Mission Shakti | What is A-SAT and how it hit Microsat-R in 168 secs". OnManorama. Retrieved 28 March 2019.
  4. ^ "India shows off tech to 'kill' satellites, will also help tackle high-altitude missiles". The Times of India. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  5. ^ "Press Information Bureau". pib.nic.in. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  6. ^ "DRDO in news" (PDF). Defense Research and Development Organization. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Mission Shakti: Technology demonstrator or new weapon in the arsenal?". DailyO. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  8. ^ Interview: Vijay Kumar Saraswat[dead link]
  9. ^ Ratliff, Ben. "India successfully tests missile interceptor". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  10. ^ "DRDO readies shield against Chinese ICBMs". India Today. 9 March 2009. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". 12 February 2015. Archived from the original on 22 December 2017. Retrieved 11 June 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Unnithan, Sandeep (27 April 2012). ""India has all the building blocks for an anti-satellite capability"". India Today. Archived from the original on 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  13. ^ Lele, Ajay (11 July 2012). "Should India Conduct an ASAT Test Now?". idsa.in. Institue for Defence Studies and Analyses.
  14. ^ "India Successfully Test-Fires New Interceptor Missile". News.outlookindia.com. Archived from the original on 28 April 2014. Retrieved 2014-04-30.
  15. ^ "India successfully test-fires interceptor missile - Times of India ►". Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  16. ^ "India test fires high speed interceptor missile off Odisha coast". Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  17. ^ "DRDO's top secret A-SAT mission codenamed 'Project XSV-1'". OnManorama. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  18. ^ "Satellite-killer not a one-off, India working on star wars armoury". Times of India. 7 April 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  19. ^ "U.S. says studying India anti-satellite weapons test, warns on debris". Reuters. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  20. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions on Mission Shakti, India's Anti-Satellite Missile test conducted on 27 March 2019". www.mea.gov.in. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  21. ^ Salazar, Doris Elin (28 March 2019). "India Says Its Anti-Satellite Weapon Test Created Minimal Space Debris. Is That True?". Space.com. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  22. ^ Clark, Stephen (27 March 2019). "U.S. military sensors track debris from Indian anti-satellite test". Spaceflight Now.
  23. ^ Langbroek, Marco (30 April 2019). "Why India's ASAT Test Was Reckless. Publicly available data contradicts official Indian assertions about its first anti-satellite test". The Diplomat.
  24. ^ Langbroek, Marco (30 April 2019). "Why India's ASAT Test Was Reckless. Publicly available data contradicts official Indian assertions about its first anti-satellite test". The Diplomat.
  25. ^ Stewart, Phil (28 March 2019). "U.S. studying India anti-satellite weapons test, warns of space debris". Reuters.
  26. ^ Stewart, Phil (28 March 2019). "U.S. sees India space debris from weapons test eventually burning up". Reuters.
  27. ^ "US adopts neutral stand on 'Mssion Shakti', to continue space collaboration with India". The Hindu Business Line. 28 March 2019.
  28. ^ "'A terrible thing': India's destruction of satellite threatens ISS, says Nasa". The Guardian. 2 April 2019.
  29. ^ Chaudhury, Dipanjan Roy (29 March 2019). "Russia puts onus on US for early outer space rules after India's test". The Economic Times.