Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday announced that India had demonstrated anti-satellite missile capability by shooting down a live satellite, describing it as a rare achievement that puts the country in an exclusive club of space superpowers. “In the journey of every nation, there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come. One such moment is today,” he said in an unprecedented broadcast to the nation on television, radio and social media. “India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti,” the prime minister tweeted later.

“#MissionShakti was a highly complex one, conducted at extremely high speed with remarkable precision. It shows the remarkable dexterity of India’s outstanding scientists and the success of our space programme,” Modi said. “Shooting down a low earth orbit satellite is a rare achievement for the country,” he said.

What is low earth orbit satellite or LEO?

A Low Earth Orbit satellite is marked by altitudes which are lesser than 2,000 kilometres from the surface of the Earth. In space, most of the manmade objects are in LEO and most military satellites also orbit in LEO. Any satellite in the LEO can potentially monitor the ground and water on the surface of the earth with ease and thus, it becomes crucial for a country to have a strong defence system in space to counter any spy movements.

Apart from India, only the United States of America, Russia, and China have the capability of shooting down satellites in the LEO (Lower Earth Orbit) as it requires great technological know-how and execution abilities to hit a target hundreds of kilometres above the surface of the planet.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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