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‘Star Wars’ adds heft to rising space power

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While the timing of India’s anti-satellite test on March 27, just a fortnight before voting begins in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has for obvious reasons become a focal point of public debate, the bigger issue of the test’s implications for the country’s defence has in the process been somewhat obscured.

What does the test named “Mission Shakti” really imply? Is it the prelude to Star Wars over South Asia? A major achievement or just carefully orchestrated hype for electoral consumption? To make sense of it all, sans politics, we need to get into a little rocket science. To begin with, “Star Wars” has long been a reality. Whether we like it or not, space is militarised and a nation like India, confronted by adversaries on both its flanks, has no option but to develop credible deterrence against the use of space weapons. This essentially requires an offensive capability to take out critical space-based assets. India has been quietly but steadily acquiring such a capability for several years now.There are two related aspects of the military use of space — the first has to do with ballistic missiles and the second with satellites. While the development of ballistic missiles is an old story, the means to knock them down is more recent. Most countries with missile capabilities, including the United States, Russia, China, Israel and India, have been developing anti-ballistic capabilities for some years now.

The A-SAT programme is a spin-off from the much larger anti-ballistic missile (ABM) programme. The missile used in this case was similar to those used in our ongoing ballistic missile defence programme, except that it was of........

© Deccan Chronicle