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India shoots down live satellite to demonstrate anti-satellite missile capability; 4th country to enter elite space power club

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NEW DELHI (PTI): India shot down one of its satellites in space on Wednesday with an anti-satellite missile to demonstrate this complex capability, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, making it only the fourth country to have used such a weapon.

Declaring India has established itself as a global space power after the success of the operation 'Mission Shakti', Modi said the missile hit a live satellite flying in a Low Earth Orbit after it traversed a distance of almost 300 km from earth within three minutes of its launch.

Modi said the space mission in which scientists including from the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organistion (DRDO) were involved gave the country a 'new strength' and was an effort to secure a 'fast growing India'. "A strong India can be a guarantor of peace in the region and beyond. Our strategic objective is to preserve peace, not prepare for war."

The announcement was made by the prime minister in a broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media shortly before which he advertised his address on Twitter, calling it an 'important message'.

"A short while ago, India's scientists have successfully hit a target in space with an Anti-satellite or ASAT missile. The target was a live satellite which was flying in a Low Earth Orbit. The missile travelled a distance of almost 300 km from earth and hit the target within three minutes of its launch," Modi said shortly after noon in his address which he said is for a 'very special purpose'. The address comes a fortnight before the start of the multi-phase Lok Sabha polls.

DRDO Chairman G Satheesh Reddy said the anti-satellite missile test is a reflection of the country's growing capability to develop critical technology and that it will act as a 'good deterrence',

Reddy said the clearance for the project was given over two years ago.

"It is a great achievement for India," he told PTI.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) came out a 10-point explainer to say the anti-satellite missile test was carried out to verify India's capability to safeguard space assets and that it was not directed against any country.

The MEA said the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure there is no space debris. "Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the earth within weeks."

India has successfully demonstrated its capability to interdict and intercept a satellite in outer space based on complete indigenous technology, it said, adding that the satellite used in the mission was one of India's existing satellites operating in lower orbit while a ballistic missile defence interceptor was used to hit it.

Noting that India has achieved a remarkable success, Modi in his address said so far only three countries in the world - USA, Russia and China had this capability.

"Today, India has become the fourth country to acquire this status as a space power. There can be no bigger moment of pride for every Indian than this."

Modi assured the international community that the new capability is not directed against anyone and it does not violate any international law or Treaty obligation to which India is a party.

"India has no intention to threaten anyone. This is an effort to secure a fast growing India," he said, adding that defending and securing valuable space assets is equally important.

"From the point of view of India's security and economic development, today's ASAT missile will give the country new strength."

The prime minister said all the objectives that were set by the scientists have been fulfilled and that it is a matter of pride for all in the country that the mission was accomplished using an indigenously developed ASAT missile.

"In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today." The announcement was preceded by a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) presided by the prime minister.

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