Mission Shakti: Pentagon says India debris expected to burn up in atmosphere

Clark Diaz
April 7, 2019

Amid hue and cry over the debris left in space after India A-SAT missile test, the DRDO on Saturday said the test was deliberately done below 300 km to ensure that debris decay is fast.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Monday more than 400 pieces of orbital debris from the test had been identified, including debris that was travelling above the International Space Station - something he called a "terrible, awful thing". NASA says that the massive amount of debris the weapons test created in orbit around the Earth now poses a threat to the ISS.

The Pentagon on Thursday (April 4) stated that it stood by Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan's assessment last week that debris from an Indian anti-satellite weapons test would eventually burn up in the atmosphere, despite a subsequent, more negative assessment by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

India has been on the defensive following the March 27 test that Nasa branded a "terrible thing" that had created new dangers for astronauts aboard the ISS. On March 27, India achieved a historic accomplishment by firing down its low orbit satellite with a ground-to distance missile, which makes the nation a distance power.

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On March 27, India shot down one of its satellites in space with an ASAT missile, which made it only the fourth country after the U.S., the USSR and China to have used such a weapon.

The DRDO chief also said that the interceptor missile used in "Mission Shakti" has a range of more than 1000km but the interception was deliberately done at a range of 283km to ensure the safety of space assets.

"A mission of this nature after a test is conducted can't be kept secret". All necessary permissions were taken, Reddy said. Of those, 24 went above the apogee of the ISS, the point of the space station's orbit farthest from the Earth.

Addressing the mediapersons, Reddy also said, "For a similar application we don't need another test".

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Nearly all the technologies used for the ASAT test were indigenously developed with some 50 industries contributing components for the 13 metre missiles weighing 19 tonnes.

About 150 scientists worked round-the-clock in the past six months and about 2,000 components were sourced from 50 private industries. The idea began around 2014 and development started in 2016 with a go-ahead from the government. "The ASAT missile will give new strength to India's space programme".

"In a letter to ISRO Chairman K Sivan, NASA Administrator James Bridenstine said: "based on the guidance received from the White House", he looks forward to continuing to work with ISRO on a host of issues including human space flights".

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