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Wednesday 19 February 2020

Mission Shakti: India’s scientific marvel, space power

During this mission, a live geostationary satellite was targeted using the A-SAT missile. Hitting the target accurately involved extensive mathematical and physical calculations.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said in his address to the nation that India had achieved an unprecedented feat today. India is today a “space power”, he said on the occasion of the successful testing of an anti-satellite missile under the project Mission Shakti.

So far, only Russia, America and China had this status. The prime minister said that India’s scientists hit a live satellite in the LEO (Low Earth Orbit), 300 km away in space. This live geostationary satellite, a predetermined target, was hit precisely by an anti-satellite missile (A-SAT).

India has become the fourth country with this space power.

What is Mission Shakti?

Indian scientists hit a satellite of low earth orbit 300 km from the spot of the launch of the A-SAT missile. The satellite was a predetermined target that was hacked by the A-SAT missile. The mission was completed in just three minutes.

Mission Shakti was a difficult one. This has enhanced the technical capacity of India.

After this successful trial, India is now capable of attack enemies through space too. This gives India a big edge over the enemy in a situation of war.

The mission was a joint venture using the know-how of satellites that the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) possesses and the interceptor developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

With Mission Shakti, India has sent a message to China that is unlikely to offer Pakistan this technology in future conflicts. Pakistan does not have the anti-satellite missile technology.

What is a low earth orbit?

A low earth orbit is used for telecommunication. Such an orbit is about 2,000 km from the earth surface on the equatorial plane along which communication satellites revolve around our planet. These satellites are used primarily for data communication. Simply put, these are the satellite used for emails, video conferencing and paging service. These satellites move at a faster pace than other geosynchronous satellites on a higher orbit. LEO-based telecommunication is used primarily in developing countries.

Challenges of this mission

The biggest challenge of this mission was that these satellites move at a very high speed and they have no fixed position with respect to a point on earth. While a geostationary satellite will always appear above a given point on the earth surface, a geosynchronous satellite will return to a given spot in the sky after every 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4 seconds (the time for one full rotation of the earth around its axis known as a sidereal day).

During this mission, a live geostationary satellite was targeted using the A-SAT missile. Hitting the target accurately involved extensive mathematical and physical calculations.

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