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India said Wednesday it had successfully shot down a low-orbiting satellite, becoming only the fourth nation—behind Russia, China and the U.S.—to carry out the military feat, Reuters reported.
The test comes just weeks before India's general election, and it marks the latest advance in the growing weaponization of space.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the mission had made “India a much stronger nation."
“India has made an unprecedented achievement today,” Modi said in a live television address. “India registered its name as a space power."
The satellite was downed by a missile at a range of 186 miles. The technology is designed to take out an enemy’s communications infrastructure. It could also theoretically be used in the future to intercept a ballistic missile.
The mission comes amid a period of heightened tension between India and neighboring Pakistan. Following the news, Pakistan said that when it comes to space, “every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena."
While Modi insisted the timing of the test was not intended to antagonize any of its regional rivals, Mamata Banerjee, a potential challenger to Modi in the upcoming election, said the test was a violation of the electoral code and promised to lodge a complaint.
"Today's announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election," Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal state, said on Twitter.
Cover Image: A salesman watches Indian prime minister Narendra Modi addressing the nation on a television in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)