Relevance: GS Paper III
Theme of the Article
ASAT is no substitute for the long overdue policy debate on India’s security challenges in outer space.
India has become only be the fourth country to test an ASAT weapon after the US, Russia and China.
ASAT Tests by other Nations
- The first ASAT tests by Washington and Moscow go back to the 1960s.
- China tested its first ASAT weapon in 2007.
India Lags Behind
- All three national which have done ASAT tests have stepped up their work on space weapons since.
- Beijing and Moscow are said to be close to deploying space weapons.
- In the US, President Donald Trump has announced the intent to create a space force that can fight wars in the dark yonder.
- India has a long way to catch up.
Analysing India’s ASAT Test
- India’s ASAT test targeted a satellite in a low earth orbit of 300 km.
- It builds on its already demonstrated missile defence systems.
- India has had ASAT capabilities for long previous governments had denied permission to develop and test them.
- The test conducted is more about Delhi’s changing approach to space weapons than a great technological breakthrough.
- One ASAT test based on modest technologies, however, is no substitute
India’s Earlier Stand on ASAT Tests
- Although space has become an arena for great power jousting and the technology to build space weapons has advanced rapidly, India argued in international forums against the weaponisation of outer space.
- Despite the growing dependence of India’s armed forces on communication and reconnaissance satellites, the civilian leadership has resisted the development of effective higher defence structures to manage the emerging space threats.
Delhi’s explicit demonstration of space weapon capabilities is welcome, but it must be part of a clearly articulated military space doctrine that identifies India’s political objectives and technological goals in outer space and the strategy to realise them.