Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India had shot down a satellite in space on Wednesday with an anti-satellite missile, hailing the test as a major breakthrough in its space program, Reuters reports.
Modi made the announcement in a television address to the nation. He said India 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 weaponization of space and setting off a race between rival powers.
“Some time ago, our scientists, shot down a live satellite 300 kilometers away in space, in low-earth orbit,” Modi said, calling it a historic feat.
“India has made an unprecedented achievement today,” he said, speaking in Hindi. “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 program for years, making earth-imaging satellites and launch capabilities as a cheaper alternative to Western programs.
Brahma Chellaney, a security expert at New Delhi’s Centre of Policy Research, said the United States Russia and China were 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.”
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