The Pentagon has defended India’s ASAT test and said the test was carried out as India is concerned about the “threats” it faces in space. Prime Minister Modi had announced the success of Mission Shakti in which a low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile was shot down on the 27th of March.
“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. And therefore, they feel they have to have a capability to defend themselves in space,” US Strategic Command Commander General John E Hyten told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
NASA had dubbed Mission Shakti a “terrible thing” claiming that the test had produced debris which could endanger the International Space Station (ISS). Hyten advocated for some manner of norms of behaviour in space. “And where those norms of behavior should begin, in my opinion, is with debris, because as the combatant commander responsible for space today, I don’t want more debris,” he said.
Senator Tim Kaine, running mate of Hillary Clinton in 2016, also voiced similar concerns. “What should the rules environment be, and what should we be doing to try to promote rules? India is an ally. We’re not talking about an adversary doing something. We’re talking about them testing some capacity, but then that creates challenges for all kinds of uses of space. How should we be solving problems like that?” Kaine asked.
India had become only the fourth country to acquire ASAT capabilities after the US, Russia, and China. The success of Mission Shakti was hailed as proof of India’s growing prowess.