Anti Satellite Technologies
- Satellites form an integral part of a country’s critical infrastructure.
- Intercepting satellites can halt various critical applications including navigation systems, communication networks, broadcasting, banking systems, surveillance etc.
What is A-SAT?
Anti-satellite technology is a counter-space capability of a country to neutralize space-based assets of enemy country.
Types of A-SAT
- Missile-based A-SAT: A missile is used to hit and destroy satellite using
- Direct-ascent kinetic kill vehicle (Chinese A-SAT in 2007, India now, USA and Russia)
- Co-orbiting missile (Russia has this type)
- Co-orbital drones
- Approach the target satellite and deviate it from its orbit. (China, UK, Russia are working on this technology)
- High-energy lasers
- Blind the sensors of the satellites.
- Interception and jamming of signals from the satellites by sending more powerful radio signals.
History of A-SAT Missile Tests
- ASAT missile tests have been conducted by USA and Russia in the cold-war era.
- USA has the anti-satellite weapon since 1959 followed by Russia in 1960
- The cold-war witnessed the anti-satellite weaponry tests till early 1980s.
- China conducted A-SAT weaponry test in 2007. (800km orbit)
- Russia has recently shot down satellite using ASAT weaponry as lately as October, 2018.
Treaties governing Outer Space
Outer Space Treaty 1967
- According to this treaty, outer space shall be used only for peaceful purposes.
- It prohibits countries from placing into orbit around the Earth any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction.
- It requires that celestial bodies shall be used by all parties exclusively for peaceful purposes and no weapon can be stationed on them.
- However Outer Space Treaty by itself does not prevent arms race in space.
- India is a party to Outer Space Treaty
- 50th anniversary of United Nations Conference on the Exploration and Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNISPACE+50) took place in 2018.
UN Resolutions: PAROS to TCBMs
- The Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) is a UN resolution that advocates for a ban on the weaponization of space.
- It was conceived of during the Cold-war era.
- The PAROS resolution acknowledges the limitations of Outer Space Treaty in preventing of an arms race in outer space.
- However, US opposition has thwarted treaty negotiations in the UN General Assembly.
TCBMs and PPWT
- Since 2005, the UNGA has adopted annual resolutions on “Transparency and Confidence-Building Measures in Outer Space Activities.”
- China and Russia in 2008 submitted the following treaties to reiterate the importance of a weapon-free outer space.
- Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (PPWT)
- Treaty on threat or use of force against Outer Space Objects.
- Under Mission Shakti, India demonstrated the capability to destroy a satellite in the low earth orbit using an anti-satellite missile.
- India became only the 4th country to conduct an Anti-Satellite missile test after USA, Russia and China.
- Microsat R was a military imaging satellite placed in an orbit 274 km above the Earth surface with an orbital velocity of 7.8km/s.
Technology: ‘Hit to Kill’
- The anti- satellite test involved the ‘hit to kill’ missile technology.
- Under the ‘hit to kill’ technology, a missile is shot at the satellite in order to hit and kill the satellite.
Kill vehicle technology
- The A-SAT missile was based on the exo-atmospheric kill vehicle technology.
- It includes
- an 18-tonne, 3-stage interceptor missile
- with 2-stage solid propellants
- with a long range tracking radar and
- Infra-red and radar frequency seekers to reach the target satellite and hit it.
- Accordingly the anti-satellite missile used was an advanced version of ‘Prithvi Defence Vehicle’ of India’s Ballistic Missile Defence system. This is because the target satellite was in the 300km orbit.
INTEGRATED TRI-SERVICE AGENCIES
- India is set to form tri-service agencies in 3 critical domains of cyber security, space and special operations as per the recommendation of Naresh Chandra Committee.
- The 3 tri-service agencies that are being established include
- Special Operation Division
- Defence Cyber Agency
- Defence Space Agency
- Note: India is also keen on restructuring the armed forces into 3 theatre-based integrated tri-service commands northern, western and southern on the lines on US (3) and China (5).
- The integrated tri-service agencies will draw staff from each service.
- They will be headed by a 2-star officer (Major General) and serve under the overall command of the Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee.
Global Special Forces
|United States Army Special Forces||Green Berets|
|Russian Special Forces||Spetsnaz GRU|
|German Special Forces||under the KSK KommandoSpezialkräfte|
Defence Space Agency
- The Defence Imagery Processing and Analysis Centre (Delhi) and the Defence Satellite Control Centre (Bhopal) will be merged to form the Defence Space Agency
- It will be headed by an officer of the rank of air vice-marshal serving under the overall command of the Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee.
- To protect India’s space assets under the INSAT, IRS, IRNSS systems.
- The counter-space capability is much needed in response to China’s offensive capabilities in the space which it has demonstrated.
- China is the second country after the US to have demonstrated this capability.
Note: USA has recently established a Space Force as a separate military branch