Months after India successfully launched its anti-satellite test codenamed ‘Mission Shakti’ in March, a latest report by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has said that as many as 49 pieces of Mission Shakti’s debris are floating in space. "At the time of breakup, over 400 fragments were initally tracked at approximately 294 x 265 km altitude by the US Strategic Command's Space Surveillance Network (SSN). A total of 101 debris have entered the public satellite catalogue (database containing a list of objects in orbit), of which 49 fragments remain on orbit as of July 15,” the NASA report was quoted as saying by Times of India.
However, an Indian expert has trashed the NASA report. The TOI report quoted Ravi Gupta, a missile expert and former DRDO scientist, saying that the NASA report seems to be more of a ‘propaganda’. Gupta said that there seems to be a malicious plan in place against India. He also raised concern as to why the NASA didn’t say anything about debris generated by Russia or China.
In March earlier this year, India has shown the world that it has the anti-satellite capability when it successful shot down a missile in the low orbit of the Earth.
Giving key details about the mission, PM Modi had announced India’s anti-satellite missile system with a successful test against a low earth orbit satellite. “India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised & modern capability. Entire effort is indigenous. India stands tall as a space power! It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony,” PM Modi said on Twitter after the national address.
The ‘IndSpaceEx’ exercise will help Indian armed forces in testing the cosmic war zone and see how the A-Sat capabilities can be used to defend the Indian skies. The exercise comes at a time when India’s neighbour China is aggressively growing in this field. Shortly after ‘Mission Shakti’, Beijing had launched several missiles from a ship to demonstrate its A-Sat capabilities.
“Space is getting militarised, as also contested and competitive. The main aim of the exercise, to be held in the last week of July under the aegis of the Integrated Defence Staff of the defence ministry, is to assess the requisite space and counter-space capabilities that are needed by India to ensure we can protect our national security interests in this final frontier of warfare,” the Times of India quoted an official aware of the upcoming event as saying. The March 27 test had made India the fourth country in the world after the US, Russia and China to have the ASAT capabilities. Amid uproar, Pentagon had backed India. "The first lesson from the Indian ASAT is just the simple question of why did they do that. And the answer should be, I think to all the committee looking at it, is that they did that because they are concerned about threats to their nation from space," US Strategic Command Commander General John E Hyten told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had said about 60 pieces were tracked and out of which 24 are going above the apogee of the ISS.