India has shot down one of its own satellites.

The nation has claimed its place as a “space power”, becoming just the fourth country to have used an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China.

“Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in low-Earth orbit,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a television broadcast.

“India has made an unprecedented achievement today.

“India registered its name as a space power.”

Anti-satellite weapons are used to blind or disrupt communications, or potentially intercept ballistic missiles.

These technologies have raised fears of the weaponisation of space.

India says its test missile was designed to protect the country’s assets in space against foreign attacks.

“The capability achieved ... provides credible deterrence against threats to our growing space-based assets from long-range missiles, and proliferation in the types and numbers of missiles,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

NASA has criticised the development. 

The US completed the first anti-satellite test in 1959, followed by the Soviet Union in the 1960s and early 1970s.

In 1985, the United States launched a missile from an F-15 fighter, destroying a US satellite called Solwind P78-1.

China entered the anti-satellite arena in 2007.