India Prime Minister declares country a 'space power' after shooting down own satellite

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that his country had successfully shot down an Indian satellite in the country's first test of anti-satellite weaponry.

Modi said in an address on state television that his country had reaffirmed its status as a "space power" with the test and noted that the test had occurred in the lower atmosphere, according to Reuters.


“Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometers away in space, in low-earth orbit,” Modi told viewers in his speech Wednesday.

“India has made an unprecedented achievement today,” he continues, according to Reuters. “India registered its name as a space power.”

India's foreign ministry confirmed that the test lasted about three minutes and would result in any debris from the explosion “decay[ing] and fall[ing] back onto the earth within weeks."

“The capability achieved through the anti-satellite missile test provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long-range missiles, and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles,” a statement from the foreign ministry read, according to Reuters.

The U.S. and China have had anti-satellite capabilities for years. A test undertaken by Chinese scientists in 2007 reportedly led to the creation of the largest orbital debris cloud in history, according to the news service.

The Pentagon did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on India's weapons test. News of the test comes as India and its main rival, Pakistan, have been embroiled in a dispute for weeks over the disputed region of Kashmir.

Pakistan returned a captured Indian air force pilot earlier this month after the pilot was downed during an alleged anti-terrorist mission and captured.