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New York

Tuesday 20th March 2018

India Declares Itself a Space Power After Shooting Down Satellite


7Dnews London

Wed, 27 Mar 2019 11:32 GMT

India shot down a satellite in space on Wednesday March 27th with an anti-satellite missile, hailing the test as a major breakthrough in its space programme, Reuters has reported.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the announcement during a television address to the nation, confirming that his country would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.

Such capabilities have raised fears of the weaponisation of space and the start of a race between rival powers.

Describing the move as a historic feat, Modi said: "Some time ago, our scientists, shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in low-earth orbit."  

He added in Hindi: "India has made an unprecedented achievement today. India registered its name as a space power." 

Modi faces a general election next month. He went on Twitter earlier to announce his plan for a national broadcast, saying he had an important announcement to make.

India has had a space programme for years, making earth imaging satellites and providing launch capabilities as a cheaper alternative to Western programmes. 

Brahma Chellaney, a security expert at New Delhi's Centre of Policy Research, said the United States, Russia and China were all pursuing anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. 

"Space is being turned into a battlefront, making counter-space capabilities critical. In this light, India's successful "kill" with an ASAT weapon is significant."

No comment was immediately available from India's old rival Pakistan. There was also no immediate reaction from China's foreign or defence ministries.