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India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks during the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit in Gandhinagar
Reuters/Amit Dave
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SHOCK TREATMENT

India shoots down satellite from orbit, becomes fourth country with the capability

By Harish C Menon

India today (March 27) became only the fourth country in the world to attain the capability to destroy a satellite in orbit using a missile.

“India has shot down a low-orbit satellite,” prime minister Narendra Modi announced in an address to the nation. The feat was accomplished using an Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) missile developed completely indigenously, he said. “I congratulate all the scientists of the DRDO,” Modi said, referring to India’s premier defence technology establishment, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Calling this feat “Mission Shakti” (Shakti is Sanskrit for power), Modi said the only other nations with this capability are the US, Russia, and China. The satellite shot down was flying in a low earth orbit (LEO), he said.

The prime minister sought to reiterate that India’s space power was not a threat to other countries but was defensive in character and meant for the progress of the country.

While India has had the technology to shoot down LEOs for some time, the demonstration of the capability with Mission Shakti is a milestone, G Madhavan Nair, former chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation, told the NDTV news channel.

The prime minister’s address to the nation came amidst the campaign for the 2019 Indian national elections, sparking murmurs over the propriety of the move.