DRDO Chief G. Sateesh Reddy said any decision on weaponisation of space will be taken by the government

New Delhi: The DRDO has ruled out future anti-satellite (A-SAT) missile tests in the lower earth orbit, but hinted at keeping the options open for possible experiments in higher orbits.

At a press conference Saturday, the Defence Research and Development Organisation also said any decision on weaponisation of space would be taken by the government.

The DRDO said the interceptor used for the 27 March successful A-SAT missile test had the capability to hit targets 1,000 km away, but they had intentionally chosen the target at an altitude of 283 km to prevent creation of space debris.

“The Indian interceptor had the capability to target a satellite at a height of 1,000 km but a low earth satellite was chosen to avoid (formation of) debris,” DRDO chairman G Sateesh Reddy told reporters in New Delhi.

“We don’t need any more tests in this (lower earth) orbit now,” said Reddy. When asked if any more test would be needed in the future, including in higher earth orbit, he said, “We don’t need a test as of now.” With “as of now,” Reddy kept the option open.

On the issue of weaponisation of space, the DRDO chief said it is a decision the government has to take. “If a space command needs to be formulated, it is the decision of the government.”

The press meet was held after obtaining permission from the Election Commission.

Space Debris

Reddy said according to Indian simulations, there were no possibilities of hitting the International Space Station with A-SAT debris. “And this has been proven true, even NASA spoke about a 10-day risk period that is over today,” he said.

Many satellites, including the International Space Station, operate from much higher orbits.

Reddy said the simulation studies show all debris of the Indian A-SAT test would decay in 45 days.

‘40 Women Scientists Worked On Mission Shakti’

Giving details of Mission Shakti, Reddy said 150 scientists worked on the project, which included at least 40 women.

He said the target for the A-SAT test was launched in January specifically for the same. It is believed that India took down its MICROSAT-R satellite.

Amid political debate on when the project was initiated, Reddy said the first discussion on the A-SAT test started in 2014 and the formal detailed presentation was made in 2016.

“Post the formal approval in 2016, we started working on this project,” Reddy said.