India has entered an elite club of nations that are capable of knocking off satellites in space, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on Wednesday after a DRDO missile tested off the Odisha coast successfully hit a low orbit satellite.
Anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) are space weapons designed to incapacitate or destroy satellites for strategic military purposes. Several nations possess operational ASAT systems, with others in development or design. Although no ASAT system has yet been utilised in warfare, several nations have shot down their own (defunct) satellites to demonstrate their ASAT capabilities in a show of force.
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 February 10, 2010, Defence Research and Development Organisation Director-General and Scientific Advisor to the Defence Minister, Dr VK 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.
On 27th March 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that India tested its ASAT missile (Mission Shakti) destroying a pre-determined target of a defunct satellite.
In a much-anticipated address, PM Modi said that `Mission Shakti’ was a difficult target to achieve but was completed within three minutes of the missile launch.
“Today is 27th March. A while ago, India achieved a historic feat. India today registered itself as a space power. Till now, 3 countries of the world- America, Russia, & China had this achievement. India is the 4th country to have achieved this feat,” he said.
“The ASAT missile will give new strength to India's space program. I assure international community that our capability won't be used against anyone but is purely India's defence initiative for its security,” he 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 our space program,” the PM concluded.