The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) chief Dr G Satheesh Reddy held a press conference in Delhi yesterday addressing the media persons on Mission Shakti that was successfully launched by India on March 27. Dr Reddy highlighted the technical aspects of the mission as well as the planning and technology that was employed to make the mission a success.
An audio-video presentation during the conference revealed how the planning of the mission has started back in 2014 when PM Modi had asked the DRDO to work on challenging technologies, which was followed by a series of discussions held by the National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval on the subject. The final permission for the test was granted by the Prime Minister in 2016. A large team of people including 150 scientists worked tirelessly to make the mission a reality.
During the Question-Answer session, a journalist asked Dr Reddy as to how he would respond to the apprehension expressed by senior Congress leader P Chidambaram regarding the announcement of the success of Mission Shakti by PM Modi where he said that only a foolish government would make such a disclosure and betray a defence secret. To this Dr Reddy said that technically a mission of this nature cannot be kept a secret after the test is conducted. Look at the people who have already conducted this test like the US and China, they all came in the public view because the satellites on orbit are tracked by many stations across the world, he said.
After the Mission Shakti was conducted the NASA had called the mission a “terrible” thing and expressed apprehension over the debris created by the interception of the low orbit satellite threatening the International Space Station (ISS). Ruling out the possibility of any such risk to the ISS or any other space asset, Dr Reddy said that even though the range of the intercept missile is up to 1000 km, it was deliberately lowered down to 300 km so the debris created after the collision does not get scattered far away. He said that as per the extensive simulation studies carried out using an internationally accepted software before the launch of the mission, the debris will decay within 45 days. Further adding he said that the risk posed by the debris was temporary, which was by even admitted by the NASA, and persisted for only up to 10 days from the day of the collision.
When asked about the military importance of the test regarding the hostilities with adversaries which already have this technology, Dr Reddy said this test was a deterrence capability test but it will work for defence as well.
On the question of whether such capabilities existed in the past, the DRDO chief replied that as part of the Ballistic Missile development some basic technologies were being developed but the discussion for this started in 2014 and the go-ahead for the test was given in 2016 after a presentation was made before the highest office.
Dr Reddy also spoke about the participation of women in Mission Shakti. Though he could not provide the exact number, he said that at least 30-32 women contributed to the success of the mission. Regarding the content of indigenous contribution in the whole system used in the mission, Dr Reddy said that around 90 percent of the equipment used was indigenous and only the equipment which were not available in the country were bought from outside.