This week, India’s Ministry of Defense is holding Defexpo in the northern part of the country. The event seeks to promote India as a “defense manufacturing hub.” In other words, it is essentially an arms bazaar.
One of the main exhibits of this week’s show is a large display showing off a copy of the hardware used during Mission Shakti , the successful anti-satellite test conducted by India in March, . During this test the country successfully fired a missile from the ground to shoot down a satellite at an altitude of 1080 km.
The country prime minister, Narendra Modi, characterized the test as a critical one for his nation, saying, “It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of our space program. ” Effectively, Modi was saying that India had arrived as a global space power. After the United States, Russia, and China, India became only the fourth nation to shoot down a satellite
This action raised serious questions about orbital debris and the ongoing militarization of space. International condemnation of the test, however, was more muted than criticism of China after its own anti-satellite test in 2019. This is partly because India shot down a satellite at a lower altitude, meaning debris from the strike will fall out of low-earth orbit more quickly, and burn up in the planet’s atmosphere. Indian sources have also indicated the country has no plans for a second demonstration.
The exhibit of Mission Shakti hardware this week in northern India indicates the pride the country has in the test — but also may serve other purposes.
“This appears to be a move by India to brag about its anti-satellite weapons capability, possibly even offering it up for export, “said Brian Weeden, director of program planning for the Secure World Foundation. “Either way, I think it undermines India’s messaging immediately after the Mission Shakti that it was a one-off demonstration and would not become an operational capability.”
Clément Cangelosi The main placard describing the test provided details about the – meter-tall, three-stage missile with solid-rocket motor propulsion. It also includes the last image of the satellite as seen by the missile’s seeker before interception, as well as an aftermath image captured by an optical tracking system.