India, China space race: Both neighbours up the ante

Vikas SV

New Delhi, Sep 12: China may be ahead of India in terms of size of the economy, military might and technology, New Delhi certainly does not want to be left far behind. The Sub-Continent is where the entire world is looking these days.

While India feels pressure from the might of China, Pakistan has befriended Beijing because Islamabad feels threatened by India. New Delhi and Beijing are competing on a different, both are battling for regional dominance and wooing the smaller countries in the South Asia region to align with them.

While it is true that China is far ahead on many fronts, it is also true that Beijing's accomplishments have served as motivation for Indian developments.

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Ever since China destroyed one of its own weather satellites, the FengYun-1C (FY-1C), in 2007, India has been wanting to showcase its own technology. March's anti-satellite (A-SAT) test was the first visible sign that India is on the road to acquire counter-space capability.

On January 17, ISRO announced that it will be launching a border surveillance satellite. The announcement came six months after China and Pakistan launched a satellite that would be able to monitor the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

China's nuclear tests in 1964 encouraged the Indian nuclear program, which conducted its own nuclear tests in 1974.

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India's space endeavours began with civilian needs in mind. First satellites were developed for the purpose of the weather forecast, telecommunications and remote sensing. It was only in the mid-1980s that technology from the Indian Space Research Organisation's (Isro) Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 was employed in the Agni ballistic missile.

In fact, India's serious turn toward the military uses of space began only in the 1990s. Since then, India has been developing its own military satellites providing services such as remote sensing, tracking and communications. India's missiles are benefited by technology developed at ISRO and their increasing capabilities reflects their concerns with Pakistan and China.

When the original space race began, that is between the United States and the USSR, Indian space mission was in its very nascent stage. Over time, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) went on to become one of the best space research institutions in the world.

This year alone, both China and India have landed, or attempted to land, probes on the Moon. These types of missions are way to not only achieve international prestige but also to showcase technological abilities. Such missions also send across a subtle message that these new capabilities could be used in a conflict.

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