A-SATs are weapons designed to destroy satellites during warfare or for military purposes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation announcing the success of an an Anti Satellite (A-SAT) operation codenamed Mission Shakti that destroyed a live satellite within three minutes. With this India becomes fourth country to enter the elite group of nations to have successfully shot down a live satellite in low earth orbit. Here is everything you need to know about A-SAT Missile:
1. A-SATs are weapons designed to destroy satellites during warfare or for military purposes. A-SAT weapons have not been used so far during a war and have been only demonstrated to show force or power.
2. Mission Shakti's success propels India into the elite league of space superpowers. The US, China and Russia had successfully launched ASATs and destroyed their satellites.
3. In February 2010, Dr VK Saraswat, Former Director-General and Scientific Advisor of DRDO had said India has all the "building blocks necessary" to integrate an anti-satellite weapon to neutralise hostile satellites in low earth and polar orbits.
Bharath Gopalaswamy, a researcher in the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Program at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, had claimed in 2011 that India’s scientific community is open to ASAT tests. Rajeswari Rajagopalan, a senior fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, had said, “India might do an A-SAT test in the next five to 10 years.”
4. India tested an A-SAT missile on March 27, destroying a pre-determined target which was 300 kilometres in the low earth orbit within three minutes.
5. The US first developed an A-SAT following reports on the Soviet Union’s ability to shoot satellites in space. Several test launches were carried out between May 1958 and October 1959, most of which had failed, leading to the end of the mission. The US Air Force cancelled the A-SAT programme in the late 1980s.
6. The USA was able to successfully launch an A-SAT to destroy its own satellite which was decaying in orbit. USA announced the successful launch of an ASAT missile on February 20, 2008.
7. China had successfully destroyed a weather satellite using an SC-19 ASAT on January 11, 2007. The defunct satellite was orbiting at an altitude of 865 kilometres in the Earth’s polar orbit. The same missile was test launched previously in 2005 and 2006. After the successful launch in 2007, it was further tested in 2010 and 2013.8. Russia tested its first A-SAT system on November 18, 2015. The PL-19 Nudol was successfully tested for the second time in May 2016. Russia has since then been carrying out test launches and reportedly launched ASAT missiles in December 2016, March 2018, and December 2018.