A-SAT Mission: Accomplishment or a Desperate Political Gimmick?

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PM Modi is trying tooth and nail to stay relevant in the current political scenario, attempting to spin any and every natural achievement to his own credit. From the accomplishments of the Indian Air Force to the achievements of DRDO scientists, everything has been misrepresented as being carried out by none other than the Prime Minister himself.

In January, when Indian Air Force conducted an airstrike on the soil of Pakistan and Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan Military, he was hailed as a BJP poster boy on his return to India. It was counted as a violation of Model Code of Conduct when his picture was used for campaigning by the ideologues of Bharatiya Janata Party.

This happened again this week when Indian Scientists achieved a milestone in Space Race by acquiring the anti-satellite missile capacity. PM Modi tweeted on Wednesday morning that he will be making an important announcement between 11:45 am to 12 noon and the nation went into frenzy. Social media users came up with a multitude of theories regarding the important announcement. Some argued that it might be a second demonetization while others asked for the extradition of Masood Azhar from Pakistan, and apart from theories and speculations, the Market had to suffer when Sensex dived down several points after the PM Modi’s tweet.

The wait didn’t end easy as PM Modi missed his own timing and came online only after 12:20 pm where he announced that India has finally achieved the ability to strike down satellites in the orbit. He argued that India has become able to counter its enemies not only in land, air or water but space as well. This was hailed as a milestone under the strong leadership of Narendra Modi.

While no one can contest the importance of military presence in space, International Space Scientists are not too happy with India’s action. The biggest concern that they have discussed is of space debris which makes the space a dangerous place to operate in.

India claimed in its explanation that “the test was done in the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris. Whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks.” But Victoria Samson, Washington Office Director at the Secure World Foundation, a private foundation that works on space security, says that the actual situation is not as simple.

Samson explains that at 300 km, most of the debris will get pulled back into the Earth’s atmosphere due to the planet’s gravitational pull and most likely burn up upon re-entry within several weeks.” But she also highlights the risks. “This test looks a lot like the US’ Burnt Frost in 2008, which created 174 pieces of debris. In that case, most of the debris did de-orbit within about a month and a half; however, due to the angle of impact, roughly a dozen pieces of debris got thrown higher and one piece stayed in orbit for 18 months”, says Samson.

Apart from this huge problem, India had the technology to conduct this experiment well before PM Modi’s government in 2007. India was acting responsibly to not contribute in polluting the space but now, under PM Modi’s regime, India has lost its moral high ground.

And it makes absolutely no sense for PM Modi or BJP to claim credit for this achievement as it is a result of scientific temper of Jawaharlal Nehru and his efforts to establish ISRO and DRDO.

Mamata Banerjee has called this announcement a political stunt and Rahul Gandhi very wittily congratulated the DRDO scientists over this accomplishment and wished PM Modi a Happy World Theatre Day for his ‘theatrics’.

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