Pentagon has strongly defended India to acquire anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile test capabilities, expressing concern about the “threats” it faces in space. It may be recalled that India achieved a historic feat by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile, making the country a space power, on May 27.
The test made India the fourth country in the world after the US, Russia and China to have the ASAT capabilities. “The first lesson from the Indian ASAT is just the simple question of why did they do that. And the answer should be, I think to all the committee looking at it, is that they did that because they are concerned about threats to their nation from space,” US Strategic Command Commander General John E Hyten told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.
“And therefore, they feel they have to have a capability to defend themselves in space,” Hyten told Senate Armed Services Committee while responding to a question from Senators on the need for India to do anti-satellite missile test, and the debris it generated in the space.
After India’s test, NASA termed as a “terrible thing” the country’s shooting down of one of its satellites, saying it created about 400 pieces of orbital debris, endangering the the International Space Station (ISS). NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine had said about 60 pieces were tracked and out of which 24 are going above the apogee of the ISS. Hyten advocated for the development of some kind of international norms of behaviour in space.
“And where those norms of behaviour should begin, from my opinion, is with debris, because as the combatant commander responsible for space today, I don’t want more debris,” said the top Pentagon commander. Raising the issue, Senator Tim Kaine said India announced last month that it had successfully conducted a test of an anti-satellite weapon.