India Shoots Their Own Satellite to Prove Military Power

Prime Minister Modi says India is now a 'space power'.

India has shot down one of its own satellites to demonstrate its military power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the action establishes the country as a ‘space power.’

SEE ALSO: THE U.S. MILITARY LAUNCHES A TOP SECRET SPY SATELLITE INTO ORBIT

The anti-satellite attack was part of a test of recently developed technology. In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi explained that India is only the fourth country in the world to have employed an anti-satellite weapon. India joins United States, Russia, and China on the list of anti-satellite equipped countries.

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India flexes power

"A while ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite at a low-earth orbit. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation," Modi said. India goes to the polls in April and May.

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Modi’s opposition says the timing of technology testing is political and they will look to submit a complaint with the electoral commission. A major opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee, said it was a gross violation of the electoral code of conduct.

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"Today's announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election," Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state and a potential prime ministerial candidate, said on Twitter.

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Space war threat looms

The ability to shoot down satellites is a concern for many observers of the rapid increase of space exploration in the last decade. The rise of private enterprise in space in combination with anti-satellite technology may potentially ignite a space war.

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China responded to the news with a statement from their foreign ministry saying they hoped all countries “can earnestly protect lasting peace and tranquility in space.” The United States and Russia did not make a public comment on the attack.

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India wants in on the space race

India has funded a space programme for many years. It allows private companies to send payloads to space on its rockets but has loftier ambitions. In December the government allocated $1.43bn for its first crewed space mission, set to be launched by 2022. The high-population country clearly wants to be a player in the global space industry.

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In January India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched an imaging satellite, Microsat-R, for India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and a student developed communication satellite called Kalamsat. ISRO has a large programmed designed to get students involved in space science.

Space Kidz is a program that aims to involve high-school students closely with India's top researchers. Speaking to the media in January, ISRO chairman K. Sivan explained that three students from each of the 29 states and 7 union territories would be selected for training at ISRO Centers. They will have the opportunity to work closely with ISRO leading science and develop small satellites.

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