20 June 2017

News Story: India kick-starts military satellite programs

An Indian Space Rocket Launch (File Photo)
By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — To meet military space requirements, India plans to launch a 550-kilogram homemade military satellite within the next fortnight to join the heaviest homemade rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III, according a Ministry of Defence source. 

The GSLV Mk III rocket, fired earlier this month into space, has the capacity to carry the 4-ton class of satellites, prompting some analysts here to say this is a prerequisite for an anti-satellite weapon. 

"The capability to launch heavy rockets with heavier payloads is a prerequisite to put up anti-satellite weapons in the space," said a scientist with the Indian Space Research Organisation, which developed the rocket.

India officially maintains that space is for peaceful use and, as such, does not have an anti-satellite, or ASAT, program. However, sources within the state-run Defence Research and Development Organization say such a program does exist. 

On the relevance of the heavy GSLV Mk III rocket to an ASAT program, Ajey Lele, a senior fellow with the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, doesn't believe the GSLV Mk III is related to ASAT weaponry. "In fact, heavy satellites (more than 2 tons) are normally communication satellites, and they are in geostationary orbit. The concept of ASAT for satellites in that orbit is not possible with present level of technological expertise with any country in the world." 

But Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, a senior fellow with the Observer Research Foundation, disagrees. "If you are aiming at satellites in low-Earth orbits, PSLV [Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle] would be sufficient to launch 'killer' ASAT satellites, but if you are aiming to destroy satellites in geostationary orbits, such as communication satellites, then of course GSLV Mk III would be useful." 

Pillai, however, said India doesn’t have any ASAT program. 

Read the full story at DefenseNews