Space Weaponisation

Space Weaponization: All you need to know about

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.


  • 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.

Mission Shakti

  • 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.


  • 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 ForcesGreen Berets
Russian Special ForcesSpetsnaz GRU
German Special Forcesunder 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

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