From the Viewsroom

Taking Defence to a higher orbit

TV Jayan | Updated on April 02, 2019

All credit to the scientists for developing the anti-satellite tech

The shooting down of a fast-moving satellite in an orbit 300 kilometres from earth in an attempt to prove the country’s anti-satellite technology prowess is undoubtedly a remarkable feat. This is strategically significant as, in the eventuality of an attack, India can cripple the enemy’s communication and financial services, among others, by targeting its satellites in orbit.

What is commendable is that mindful of the space environment, the scientists decided to demonstrate their capability by targeting a satellite in the lower band of low earth orbit (LEO), ensuring that the debris created by such an impact will have short orbital life and not pose any threat to other objects in the orbit. Remember the kind of criticism that China attracted when it carried out a similar test in 2007 which was further into LEO. It was said that the Chinese kinetic-kill experiment gave rise to 30,000-odd space debris, some of which almost hit satellites and other space-borne objects.

It may be true that India acquired the capability some years ago, but proving it by firing its first space weapon successfully is indeed a step in the right direction. Some strategic experts cite the case of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which left out India despite us acquiring commendable nuclear capability way back in the 1970s.

While the scientists deserved all the credit for what they achieved on Wednesday, the breaking of the news to the nation through a live telecast by Prime Minister Narendra Modi did attract criticism from some quarters. Rightfully so, as his is a caretaker government and there are certain ethical boundaries that ought to be respected.

In recent history, no politician in power has attempted to share the limelight for what scientists have achieved like Modi did; an exception being Atal Bihari Vajpayee, when he announced the successful completion of Pokhran-2 nuclear tests in May 1998. But that was still understandable considering the geopolitical ramifications of a non-NPT country carrying out nuclear tests and the fact that the country was not in the midst of elections.

Senior Deputy Editor

Published on March 28, 2019

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