A little over two weeks ago, India successfully test-fired an interceptor rocket that shot down a live satellite. In a surprise television address, India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, then triumphantly declared that India was now the fourth country to acquire the ability to shoot down satellites, after the United States, Russia, and China.
The test’s success clearly demonstrates the advancement of India’s military capabilities in outer space.
But how much of an advancement is it, in reality?
In terms of technological prowess, hitting a satellite with a rocket is considerably less difficult than intercepting a long-range missile with another missile—often described as “hitting a bullet with a bullet”—for a number of reasons.