Satellite killer technology within reach
Tuesday January 23 2007 00:00 IST
KOCHI: It may be little known, but India possesses the essential space technology to build a satellite killer concept similar to the one that China experimented last week to shock the global space community.
Top sources told this website's newspaper that India has gained enough experience in space science to engineer a head-on collision with a low-orbiting satellite but would never want to use its prowess for military purposes. The claim comes when ricochets of the Chinese ‘killing’ of its ageing satellite is still refusing to die down with all countries flaying the move.
China had guided a rocket launched from its Xichang spaceport into a high-speed head-on collision to shatter the Feng Yun 1C satellite into shreds. This is the first time that the idea of a kinetic killer was used to destroy low-orbiting satellites.
The kinetic kill mechanism ensures that a killer rocket crashes head-on into a target moving at 28,000 km/hr. It adds its own speed to impact, creating a hypersonic shock wave that shreds the target into metallic confetti. The killer is positioned in the collision course by tracking the target with the help of radars and other monitoring equipment.
“We use same type of calculations before every satellite is launched. This is done to position our satellite in a crowded space without causing inconvenience to other vehicles using the same area. The same method can be used to position a killer vehicle near a target to destroy it,” top ISRO sources said.
In its space war exercise, China used similar methods to pinpoint the target and launched the killer using a ballistic missile before homing it into it. “With the existing technology India can also perfect this mechanism within no time. But we believe that space must be kept out of military dreams,” sources said.
Though the world discussed such concepts during the Cold War, interest in space war possibilities has been renewed following the Chinese threat. And, in spite of Chinese argument that the test was a signal to Taiwanese political manoeuvres, India and others feel the contrary.
“What worries us most is the presence of debris. Such collisions can leave millions of metallic particles in low orbits widely used by all countries. And such orbiting particles can damage satellites,” ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair said and added these shrapnels could remain there for the next 10 years.
On the possibility of converting the Indian space engineering to achieve a similar feat, Nair said the country was against militarising space.
“We can do it. But we don’t want to give up our declared policy,” he affirmed.
And the day this policy is given a rethink will begin the countdown of an Asian edition of space war thrillers.
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