New Delhi, India: India’s remote sensing satellites face threat from space debris created by China’s anti-satellite test in 2007, according to Indian government. India’s remote-sensing satellites are placed in low-earth orbit above 175 km (600 km to 900 km polar orbit). This has the highest density of debris cloud that was created after the test.
According to a government statement in the Parliament, “India is strongly opposed to any attempt to place weapons in space or conducting any unconventional weapons tests in space as it would pose a perennial threat to all space systems regardless of their use for civilian or military purposes.”
India’s concerns regarding China are behind the revival of ballistic missile defence (BMD) discussions between India and the US. However, due to Obama administration’s fundamental objection to BMD, there is no agreement on when the next round of talks would be held. Separately, India is working on technology to be able to defend its satellites.
Earlier, V K Saraswat, scientific adviser to the defence minister had said, “Our country does not have a policy to attack anybody in space. But as part of the ballistic missile defence programme, we have all the technology elements required to integrate a system through which we can defend our satellites or take care of future requirements.”
In a rare admission, the government said China’s ability to conduct an ASAT test — the ability to destroy a satellite in space — was, by its very nature a threat to Indian security.
Quoting international space surveillance agencies, they said, China’s test immediately created millions of pieces of debris of size 1 mm to 1 cm, 40,000 pieces between 1 cm and 10 cm, 800 pieces more than 10 cm. It’s the last lot that is particularly dangerous to satellites.