Modi declares India 'space superpower' as satellite downed by missile

India has shot down a satellite in a missile test which makes the country a "space superpower", Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.

Modi underscored that with the test, India was among four countries with a demonstrated anti-satellite capability.

Speaking in an unprecedented national address, broadcast simultaneously across all of India's TV stations and supplemented on social media, Modi confirmed India had become the fourth country in the world, after the United States, Russia and China, to successfully deploy the weapons technology.

Official sources told the Telegraph the missile was a "kinetic kill vehicle" that did not carry any explosives or other devices.

India's test occurred at a lower altitude, some 300km, so its effects may be shorter lived as debris from the test is pulled into Earth's atmosphere.

Acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

The United States ran the first anti-satellite test in 1959, when satellites themselves were rare and new.

Lele said India had in all likelihood destroyed its own satellite in the three-minute test conducted on Wednesday. "We will give Rs 3.60 lakh crore in the bank accounts of the poor", he said.

India's foreign ministry said the country "has no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space". "However, converting it to an anti-satellite technology needs a much higher speed where you have 5-10 seconds to hit something coming in at 10 km a second".

He said that the defence and space scientists used an anti-satellite missile (ASM) to destroy a mini-satellite in space. Before that, CNBC reported in January, citing its sources, that USA intelligence agencies had registered the successful trials of Russia's new Nudol anti-missile and anti-satellite defense system. Modi's concluding words, "I visualise an India which could think two steps ahead of time and have the capability to do so", were not limited to scientific achievement, but also his politics.

Responding to the development, Pakistan's Foreign Office said Pakistan believed there was a need to address gaps "in the global space laws with a view to ensuring that no one threatens peaceful activities and applications of space technologies for socio-economic development".

The leader of the main opposition Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, congratulated the defense scientists for the program but took a dig at Modi for making a big show of the announcement on a day that celebrates theatrics. "Kudos to DRDO [Defence Research and Development Organisation] scientists for this huge technological advancement", said Suresh Prabhu, India's Minister for Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation. "So some kind of sharing of capabilities can't be ignored", Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies, another Delhi think-tank, said.


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