PDV-Mk-II (ASAT missile) during integration process at DRDO labs

DRDO official says how if the US came to know,its lobbying would have halted Mission Shakti

HYDERABAD: The successful firing of the A-SAT interceptor missile on March 27, catapulted India into the elite club of space super powers, along side USA, Russia and China. A highly-secret affair, the programme could not afford any leak as it would have resulted in international pressure leading to cancellation of test, the Defence Research Development Organisation said Sunday.

Speaking for the first time on the technicalities and details of test, U Raja Babu, project director AD of the DRDO, and one of the scientists who were deeply involved in the missile development, explained the different challenges before Mission Shakti. He was speaking at the technical meet on the success of ASAT Test ‘Mission Shakti’ organised by the Aeronautical Society of India at DRDL campus in Kanchanbagh.

Explaining the challenges, firstly he said it was divided among various labs of DRDO all over the country, because it did not want the other countries to find about it. “Secrecy was a paramount concern. If the US had come to know about this, it would have put international pressure on us to not conduct the test,” Babu said.

Secondly, he said it was quite the task which needed a lot of corrections while aligning the missile to hit the target which was travelling at nearly 10 km/seconds. “Here the challenge is to engage a body, which is coming at a very high velocity of 10km/sec. You can realise what kind of corrections were required.” The missile hit the live satellite with an accuracy of less than 10 cm -- on par with the best reported performance worldwide.

Following the test, NASA had criticised India for a ‘terrible anti-satellite test’, alleging that the debris from the satellite which was hit, had endangered its International Space Station. However, on Sunday, Babu said, “The requirement was to conduct an exercise to neutralise a live orbiting satellite with a hit-to-kill interceptor. Due to the concerns of dangers by the debris, we chose to conduct the test on a lower orbit. We chose a safety range corridor keeping in mind Indian and also international norms.”Deploying the satellite to the ‘sun synchronous polar circular orbit’, minimised collateral damage, he added, and that the debris left would dissipate in few weeks.

‘Demonstration of India’s Tech Capabilities’

Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Chairman, DRDO and Aeronautical Society of India congratulated all the DRDO Labs and team members associated with Mission Shakti, and said, “The ASAT test has demonstrated the Indian technological capabilities to carry out such a critical mission with very high degree of precision”