Star Wars: India creates cell to protect space assets | india | Hindustan Times
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Star Wars: India creates cell to protect space assets

More than a year after China conducted its first missile strike against its own orbiting satellite, India is laying the groundwork to protect its sufficiently advanced space assets, reports Rahul Singh.

india Updated: Jun 11, 2008 01:48 IST
Rahul Singh

More than a year after China conducted its first missile strike against its own orbiting satellite, India is laying the groundwork to protect its sufficiently advanced space assets.

In what is being construed as a fallout of Beijing’s ASAT (anti-satellite) weapon test, Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Tuesday announced the setting up of a special cell to counter “growing threat to India’s space assets.”

Holding that India was committed to “non-weaponisation of space,” Antony justified the move saying that India’s neighbourhood was teeming with offensive counter space systems including anti-satellite weaponry. India, obviously, wants to hedge against space risks.

Addressing the Unified Commanders’ Conference, attended by service chiefs, Antony said the new cell would act as a single window for integration amongst the armed forces, the department of space and the Indian Space Research Organisation.

Despite Beijing’s assurance that the ASAT weapon testing wasn’t aimed at anyone, the international community had expressed concerns about it triggering a space arms race.

Last January, China became the first country since 1995 to destroy a satellite in space. India’s concern is not unfounded — if China can shoot down its own satellite, it can strike satellites operated by other nations too.

Military operations on the ground rely heavily on space capabilities such as satellite image mapping, intelligence, communications and surveillance.

Many in the defence establishment are against India denying itself crucial space-based military capabilities. “Had India used space for military purposes, it could have prevented the Kargil war or at least delivered firepower more accurately to inflict maximum damage on the enemy,” an expert said.

The air force has been campaigning for the setting up of an aerospace command to exploit space but has met no success. “The flying altitude of aircraft has risen phenomenally since the First War. Space is nothing but another altitude,” said a former Air chief.