Indian authorities claim to have successfully tested an anti-satellite missile.
“India is now a major space power,” said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to local news. “India has achieved a big feat today.”
The destroyed satellite was one of India’s own, orbiting the Earth at 186 miles (300 km). The Independent reports that it may have been a mini-satellite launched into orbit a month ago for this purpose. The interceptor missile was launched from a launch complex on the East coast of India on Wednesday morning.
“India has always maintained that space should not be an arena for warfare and that remains unchanged in spite of this,” Mohdi said, according to local media. “India has always been a nation of peace, but we also defend ourselves. It is with that intention that we achieved this capability.”
The news comes in the midst of election season in India, with polls opening in several weeks. The move could be a bid to bolster Modi’s chances at re-election, according to The Wall Street Journal.
India isn’t the only world nation that has carried out such a test. China claims to have carried out a successful test in 2007, the U.S. in 1985. The Pentagon has recently warned of both China and Russia developing anti-satellite technology, including jammers and even lasers capable of disrupting or damaging satellites in orbit.
Whether India’s test will fuel the race to become the dominant nation in low-Earth orbit and beyond, or, as India claims, “secure and further peace” is still uncertain.
READ MORE: India Successfully Tests Satellite-Killer Missile [Wall Street Journal]
More on satellite killers: Pentagon Warns That Enemies Could Shoot US Satellites with Lasers