- Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
What is Mission Shakti?
What to study?
- For Prelims: Key features of A- SAT missile and significance of Mission Shakti.
- For Mains: Need for such technologies and threats to outer space region.
Context: Indian scientists have successfully conducted Mission Shakti shooting down a live satellite target in the low earth orbit (LEO).
What is it?
Mission Shakti is a joint programme of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- As part of the mission, an anti-satellite (A-SAT) weapon was launched and targeted an Indian satellite which had been decommissioned. Mission Shakti was carried out from DRDO’s testing range in Odisha’s Balasore.
India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised and modern capability, and Entire effort is indigenous. Till now, only the US, Russia and China had the capability to hit a live target in space.
Does the test create space debris?
The test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks.
What is low earth orbit (LEO) and why worry about satellites in the region?
Low earth orbit refers to an altitude up to 2,000 km. A satellite in the LEO can monitor activities on the ground and water surfaces. Such a satellite can be used for espionage and pose serious threat to the country’s security in the instances of war.
- Space is being turned into a battlefront, making counter-space capabilities critical. In this light, India’s successful ‘kill’ with an A-SAT weapon is significant.
- However, no country has used an A-SAT against another nation till date. In all the instances, the nations testing anti-satellite missiles have targeted one of their defunct satellites to showcase their space warfare capabilities.
- A-SAT weapon is likely to be the most potent military tool for the armed forces over the next few decades, notwithstanding a revolutionary technological breakthrough.
Why do we need such capabilities?
India has a long standing and rapidly growing space programme. It has expanded rapidly in the last five years. The Mangalyaan Mission to Mars was successfully launched. Thereafter, the government has sanctioned the Gaganyaan Mission which will take Indians to outer space.
- India has undertaken 102 spacecraft missions consisting of communication satellites, earth observation satellites, experimental satellites, navigation satellites, apart from satellites meant for scientific research and exploration, academic studies and other small satellites. India’s space programme is a critical backbone of India’s security, economic and social infrastructure.
- The test was done to verify that India has the capability to safeguard our space assets. It is the Government of India’s responsibility to defend the country’s interests in outer space.
- Mission Shakti will not have any effect on India’s status in the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) or other such treaties.
- The acquisition of this A-SAT technology is also expected to have spinoffs that India can exploit for domestic and international commercial use. Mission Shakti’s success will help in strengthening India’s defence capabilities.
Arms race in outer space should not be encouraged. India has always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes. It is against the weaponisation of Outer Space and supports international efforts to reinforce the safety and security of space based assets.
India believes that Outer space is the common heritage of humankind and it is the responsibility of all space-faring nations to preserve and promote the benefits flowing from advances made in space technology and its applications for all.
What is the international law on weapons in outer space?
The principal international Treaty on space is the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. India is a signatory to this treaty, and ratified it in 1982. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits only weapons of mass destruction in outer space, not ordinary weapons.
Mains Question: Space technology has great potential to help social and economic development, especially in parts of the developing world, however, the potential remains untapped. Analyze.