February 20, 2014
Gopalaswamy on Space Weaponization
Since the middle of the last decade, the terms space security and weaponization of space have gained prominence in the lexicon of issues that find their way into India’s national security agenda. Concerned statements by India’s national security managers and the prominence accorded them in New Delhi’s international security think tanks are one metric of their growing significance. The event that galvanized their attention and the broader debate on space security in India was China’s successful Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite (KE-ASAT) weapon test in 2007. Since then, statements from India’s Defense Research & Development Organization (DRDO) suggest the existence of an exploratory KE-ASAT program after the Chinese example. In this article, we make an anticipatory policy intervention against the development and deployment of KE-ASAT weapons. We argue that space debris and not KE-ASAT weapons poses the highest risk for the safe operation of Indian satellites. The use of KE-ASAT weapons, even on a limited scale, would produce an exponential increase in space debris and threaten the safe operation of satellites for all countries concerned.