The anti-satellite missile test entered a "mission mode" in the last six months with over a 100 scientists working round-the-clock to meet the launch deadline, chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation, G Satheesh Reddy said today. Speaking to news agency ANI, Mr Reddy revealed that the go-ahead to test the space missile was given two years ago.
"The National Security Advisor (Ajit Doval) whom we report to on strategic matters gave the direction to go ahead with the test and he had the concurrence of the Prime Minister. The development started a few years ago and we went into mission mode in the last 6 months," Mr Reddy said.
Categorically clarifying that ASAT is "not a derivative" of the Prithvi missile, Mr Reddy said, "This missile has been developed specifically as an anti-satellite weapon..."
"We have hit the target by 'Kinetic kill', which means by directly hitting the satellite. This calls for many technologies, which we have developed completely indigenously and we have achieved accuracy within a few centimetres - a very high level of accuracy," said Mr Reddy. He added that ASAT is capable of targeting all Low Earth Orbit satellites but "intentionally" a low altitude satellite was chosen as target because India is a "responsible nation" making sure all space assets are safe. He also said the space debris created will "decay fast."
On Wednesday, in a 10-minute address to the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced, "Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in Low-Earth Orbit... It was conducted under Mission Shakti, which was completed in three minutes."
Shortly after PM Modi's televised address, the Ministry of External Affairs released a detailed note explaining that India's actions were only to safeguard its space assets not trigger an arms race in space.
Opposition leaders from across party lines accused PM Modi's announcement as violation of the model code, using government machinery to "advertise Mission Shakti". Opposition leaders congratulated space scientists and accused PM Modi of claiming their success as an achievement of his government.
While West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dubbed it as "another limitless drama", Congress chief Rahul Gandhi wished PM Modi "a very happy World Theatre Day".
The Election Commission said the government does not need to take permission for making announcements linked to national security but it would examine PM Modi's speech for violation of model code. The poll panel likely to submit its report and also take a decision today, sources told NDTV.
(With inputs from ANI)