India claims space debris poses minimal threat

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on Saturday ended all the concerns which were being raised over orbital debris in the aftermath of the ASAT strike.

In a test aimed at boosting its defences in space, India used an indigenously developed ballistic missile interceptor to destroy one of its own satellites at a height of 300 km. "We have conducted the test on 12th February against an electronic target which has given a lot of information for us with many applications".

Only three other countries - the US, Russia and China - have anti-satellite missile (ASAT) capabilities.

Recently, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) chief Jim Bridenstine called India's ASAT test a "terrible thing". This is because this results in the generation of debris which will remain for a long time and later may have cascading effects. The first 10 days are critical and those have passed.

On various responses by the U.S. on India's anti-satellite launch, including the one by NASA administrator James Bridenstine terming it a "terrible thing", Saran said New Delhi treats the State Department statement as official and drew attention to report that NASA has conveyed that it is continuing with ongoing cooperation with India on space including on human space flight mission. "As part of our partnership with you, we will continue to work on issues using the NASA-ISRO Human Space Flight Working Group, Planetary Science Working Group, US India Earth Science Working Group and the Heliophysics Working Group", Bridenstine said. "From our simulation, we can very clearly say that the possibilities of (debris) hitting the ISS are not there", Reddy said.

He further added, "Look at the nations who have conducted such test, USA, China, they all are coming into public view because the satellite is tracked by many stations across the world".

Amid political debate on when the project was initiated, Reddy said the first discussion on the A-SAT test started in 2014 and the formal detailed presentation was made in 2016.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Wednesday (March 27) announced that India successfully test-fired an anti-satellite missile by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of elite space super-powers.

  • Valerie Cook