India's endeavour for space security asset | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 27, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 27, 2010

India's endeavour for space security asset

THE evolution of information technology has metamorphosed the very dynamics of contemporary warfare. In the current scenario, national security not only relies on the modernization of armed forces, cutting-edge defence technology and innovative policies, but also on elusive assets like communication and information. There is a transition, from the race of arms, nuclear weapons, weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), towards the race of information dominance. The enhanced use of information, expeditious chrysalis of microcomputers, information technologies and cyberspace has changed the very face of war and emerged as a new challenge for national security. The avidity to acquire more information and intelligence to counter and design future warfare puts an intense demand on space assets.
Accentuating the advantages of space assets, James A Lewis, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, asserts that using satellites and space services for national security provides several important benefits. First, space services are a force multiplier for conventional forces, as they improve capabilities and performance. Second, space services can significantly expand intelligence collection and analysis for assessing threats and providing warnings. Nations can, of course, conduct military operations, collect intelligence, and plan their security and strategic functions without access to space assets and services, but those that make use of space will have an advantage over their adversaries and competitors. Finally, space programs are an element of national power they increase prestige and provide technological prowess than can expand a nation's influence and leadership on the international stage.
After decades of waiting on the sidelines, India has imbibed the importance of space assets due to a series of transitions taking place in its geopolitical environment, uncertain and altering international security order, indispensability of gaining information dominance and decisive role of information in asymmetric warfare with rapid technological advancements. Moreover, its face-off with cross border terrorism, infiltration bids, and especially the Kargil experience, further reinforced its determination to look towards space as an imperative option for national security. The resolve to create its own alcove in space assets has today made India one of the major space actors in Asia. Seen as one of the most active players in Asia after China, India is rated as a world leader in the remote sensing data market. India's vigorous peaceful space programme has made noteworthy all-round progress.
According to the Department of Space Annual Report (2008-2009), the Indian space programme made phenomenal progress in its quest towards mastering critical technologies and witnessed several major accomplishments. A major event was the successful launch of India's first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1. The Indian space programme recorded another major success with the launching of 10 satellites utilizing the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota that included India's advanced remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2A, Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) and eight nano satellites for international customers. In addition to this, 2009 witnessed the successful launch of seven satellites - OCEANSAT-2, four CUBESAT Satellites and two RUBIN-9, Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT)-2 and Anna University Microsatellite (ANUSAT) from Sriharikota. Moreover the two major operational space systems Indian National Satellite (INSAT) and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites have continued to provide reliable services to the nation.
On the international podium, India is already working in a technological alliance with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States (US). Formal Memoranda of Understandings (MOU) have been signed with Australia, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, China, European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), European Space Agency (ESA), France, Germany, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Russia, Sweden, Thailand, United Kingdom , Ukraine, the US and Venezuela. Today developing countries are looking up to India for research assistances and support.
However, India needs to accelerate its space missions, keeping pace with China's rapid development in this field. Elaborating on motives that guide both China's civil and military space efforts, James A Lewis pointed out that, “China looks to these new technologies to provide asymmetric advantage against the US and other potential opponents. This means that military space architecture for China will look very different from that used by the US or Russia.” News reports indicate that, “China's space program is poised to surge ahead in 2010. In fact, over the next 12 months, China's activities in space may be such that 2010 could well rank as one of China's top years thus far in terms of the total number and variety of missions launched.”
Moreover, Pakistan-China bilateral cooperation in the space industry should be also noted. Recent years have witnessed their collective efforts to advance their space and science and technology cooperation. For example, China was a great force to provide momentum to Pakistan's space programme in 1990. Beijing catapult Islamabad's first satellite, Badr-A, from its Xichang Launch Center. Both countries are working together in space industry, cyber-security, climate science and so on.
Meanwhile India too is moving ahead, The Indian navy plans to create and sustain a three dimensional, technology enabled network centric system with its dedicated satellite support system. Moreover, efforts like expected launch of spy craft, called the Communication Centric Intelligence Satellite is another concrete step in attaining a secure space architecture. The use of space to provide an invincible shield and strengthen national security from future electronic warfare threats is no more a distinct dream, but an upcoming reality.
IPCS, New Delhi.

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