The launch of Agni-III, the missile with the longest range in India’s arsenal, from the Wheeler Island off Orissa on Sunday was a complete success.

Lifting off majestically at 10.50 a.m., it travelled its entire range of 3,500 km. and came down accurately on its target in the Bay of Bengal.

During its 800-second flight, it reached an altitude of 350 km. and its re-entry module sliced into the atmosphere, withstanding searing temperatures of 3,000 deg. Celsius.

The two-stage, surface-to-surface ballistic missile can carry nuclear warheads.

The nuclear triggering mechanism worked well although the missile carried only chemical explosives as payload.

An elated V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister, called it “a fantastic launch and a hat-trick.”

Talking to The Hindu from Wheeler Island, he said, “it shows the maturity of the missile’s design and the quality of its systems because we have had three successes in a row without any blemish.”

“The flight gave us the full range and pin-point accuracy. The missile travelled accurately its entire range to its last decimal place as we had planned. ”

Jubilation in the control room

As the nuclear-capable Agni-III missile zeroed in on the pre-designated target in the Bay of Bengal with copybook precision, anxiety turned into an all-round jubilation in the control room at Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast on Sunday.

There were loud shouts, clapping, hand-shaking and hugging as missile scientists, software experts and other team members congratulated each other.

“It was all about the success of the efforts put in by DRDO scientists and the anticipation of the user agency of the excellent system being acquired by then,” said a top DRDO official in the control room.

Later, the euphoric staff carried V.K. Saraswat, Scientific Adviser to the Defence Minister; Avinash Chander, Agni Mission Director; and V.G. Sekaran, Project Director, on their shoulders.

Dr. Saraswat congratulated the scientists for scoring a hat-trick of successes with Agni-III.

He urged them to continue with their hard work and make a grand success of Agni-V, which is planned to be launched by the end of the year.

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