ASAT test: How India shifted gears to match changing geopolitical realities in space with Mission Shakti

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Published: May 9, 2019 1:16:21 PM

A report titled 'Europe-India Space Cooperation: Policy, Legal and Business Perspectives from India’ points out that the country’s space programme had to be tweaked keeping in line with the changing geopolitical realities in Asia and beyond.

ASAT test, India, India space programme, CARTOSAT, SARAL, New Space dynamic, Space PolicyIndia has also accepted the fact that its own Space Policy needs to be re-oriented towards security as now space is increasingly getting weaponized.

India’s space activities are shaped by its geopolitics, and the socio-economic needs of its people. India’s space programme which has been shaped primarily by its scientific community has started recognizing that “space may not remain a purely civilian domain.” India has also accepted the fact that its own Space Policy needs to be re-oriented towards security as now space is increasingly getting weaponized.

A report titled ‘Europe-India Space Cooperation: Policy, Legal and Business Perspectives from India’ points out that the country’s space programme had to be tweaked keeping in line with the changing geopolitical realities in Asia and beyond.

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The report is a collaboration between the European Space Policy Institute (ESPI), and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF). In a chapter authored by Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Head of the Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative at ORF, she says that the anti-satellite (ASAT) test conducted by India recently was in recognition of the growing security threats and challenges and what it needs to do to establish its own deterrence mechanism in outer space. In 2007, China had carried out its ASAT test which was a demonstration of the growing strength of China in the military space domain.

According to her, Beijing’s growing muscle power in space is expected to have a multiplier effect in its dealings with India and other key spacefaring powers such as Japan. The changed focus of India’s space programme has also led India to pursue collaborative ventures in space with a number of other key space powers such as the US, Japan, and France.

India and Europe are heavily invested in outer space and both have important economic stakes in keeping the outer space environment safe, secure and clean. India’s investments are worth $37 billion, including the ground-based infrastructure and value-added services. Therefore, the protection of its space assets is a high priority.

There are enormous benefits that space cooperation between India and Europe can bring for the social and economic development of their people and accordingly, emphasize the use of space for developmental and peaceful purposes.

According to the report, both India and Europe can come together for extending space development assistance to a number of emerging space players in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The two sides have their own capabilities in the areas of earth observation and communication satellites.

India has one of the largest remote sensing satellite systems in place with the launch of CARTOSAT 1, 2, 2A and 2B, RISAT-2, RISAT-1, MeghaTropiques and SARAL and European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation and Monitoring programme can also do a great deal in meeting the requirements of the emerging space players in different regions.

Both India and the region have worked together for five decades on initiatives that have led to new research discoveries, commercial opportunities and greater socio-economic progress.

New Space is an unfolding and complex phenomenon encompassing various trends, including technological, political, and commercial trends that are together contributing to an increasingly more prominent role for private actors’ involvement in space. According to the report, this is more of a framework that will act as an enabler to expand capacity and capability for the industry to offer end-to-end products and services.

India has in recent years witnessed the emergence of a New Space dynamic, with several local entrepreneurs kick-starting space ventures to provide innovative end-to-end B2B and B2C solutions in both the upstream and downstream segments. And the New Space offers the potential of diversification of customer base for Indian industry in the space sector at the global level.

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