After entering into the elite space club with ‘Mission Shakti’, rubbing shoulders with bigwigs like the US, Russia and China, India is all set to take a giant leap by sending 100 satellites into space by 2025.
“I think there are very few countries in the world, which have space programmes bigger than us…. The programme for the future is even more ambitious. So, if we have 49 satellites today, we are looking for almost 100 satellites by 2025. You have to have the technology not only to throw up satellites in the orbit, but also to defend them,” Deputy National Security Advisor Pankaj Saran said, on the sidelines of the press conference on ‘Mission Shakti’ in New Delhi.
On March 27, the DRDO successfully blew up Indian satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), up to 300 km. However, India had already achieved the capability of shooting out moving targets in the space, way back in 2011 and has been testing long-range missiles for years.
On being asked about the timing of conducting “Mission Shakti”: Anti Satellite Test, the deputy NSA said, “The initial discussions took place between DRDO and the political leadership in 2014. The final go-ahead was given to the DRDO in 2016. It took them that much time to master the technology and to be confident that it would succeed.”
Soon after DRDO conducted this test, the US-space agency NASA had raised concerns on the debris.
“The concerns over debris have been assuaged. We have been in touch with all the important international partners. They are fully aware of what we have done in terms of orbit that we chose, in terms of technology that we used and in terms of our own scientific simulation studies, with regard to the debris.
”So, I would say that the feedback we are getting and we got is that they understand what we have done and they recognise that we have stride to minimise the problem and threat from space debris. In so far as when the debris will decay and return back to earth as we have been told by the DRDO Chairman that his study shows that its only a matter of weeks — when all the debris would come back on earth,” said Mr Saran.
The test was done on March 27 and today is April 6 so already 10 odd days have gone by. “So we have to give another few weeks to ensure that debris falls back,” he added.
On US’ concern over debris, DRDO Chairman G Sateesh Reddy said, “Firstly, the US state department or Pentagon have not expressed any concern about the debris. They said 250-300 debris are there which will dying down fast. Now the issue raised by chief administrator of NASA that some of them will be going to high altitude and also saying that they will decaying in less than ten days.”
“Our simulation study says that the debris matter accumulated after the Anti Satellite Test (ASAT) should decay in another 45 days,” Dr Reddy added.
On future strategy, he said, “DRDO is a research and development organisation, whatever the decisions taken by the government to work for particulars things and we will be responding to it. DRDO as such works in developing many advance technologies.”
“We don’t need more tests in this orbit (some 300 km above the earth) to prove it again. The guidance and control algorithm has been developed to do interception at 1,000 km above the earth. This can cover almost all low-earth orbit, including those for military use,” Dr Reddy said.
On International Space Station, the deputy NSA said, “As far as International Space Stations are concerned, we are in touch with the concerned authority there. I have to tell you that India has always conducted itself as a responsible nation, we are recognized and respected space power. We have 49 space satellites currently in orbit. So there is no one who is more concern about the safety and the peaceful usage of space than we are.”
All critical technologies for the Anti-Satelitte (ASAT) test were developed indigenously.
About 90 per cent is local, some 150 scientists worked around the clock and some 2,000 components were sourced from 50 private industry.