ASAT test shows conversion of capability to technology: Avinash Chander

NEW DELHI : 31/-5/2013 : Avinash Chander takes over as Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri. Photo : DRDO

NEW DELHI : 31/-5/2013 : Avinash Chander takes over as Scientific Adviser to Raksha Mantri. Photo : DRDO

The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test conducted on Wednesday demonstrates that we can protect our space assets as part of the all-round space capability, said Dr. Avinash Chander, former Chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

“We have been working on ASAT capabilities for some time... Once we had long range missiles, and once we had the kill vehicles for our Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defence, we had worked out in our mind that we had ASAT capability. Wednesday’s demonstration was converting that capability into a technology and a product which is a major step forward. That has been achieved,” Dr. Chander told The Hindu .

He was the architect of the Agni missile programme and the strategic weapons capability made major strides during his tenure. However, he said that no formal ASAT programme had been taken up earlier.

Dr. Chander said that existing booster and kill vehicle of the BMD programme has been adapted for the ASAT missile. The missile tested hit a satellite at 300 km. On the issue of space debris that would be created as a result of the test, Dr. Chander said India has “intentionally taken a low earth satellite where the debris does not last for more than a few months.”

He referred to the ASAT test by China in 2007 in which a satellite in the high orbit at about 800 km was intercepted. “The debris is still there,” Dr. Chander said, adding it would remain for decades and could become a hazard for any new satellites.

He said it doesn’t matter whether the target satellite is 250 km or 800 away. “We can now reach any orbit, low earth and mid-earth, and we can handle targets in that domain.”

On the technological complexity, Dr. Chander said the primary difference from the ASAT missile and other ballistic missiles is the velocity. “The velocity is much faster than any missile,” he said, which means the reaction time for interception comes down drastically. “A satellite spends less than 7-8 minutes over India. In that time we have to detect, launch, reach the target and hit it,” he stated.

The test further demonstrates that with this technology we can intercept long range missiles, of 3000-5000 km, in the exo-atmospheric phase.

As India is putting many assets in space, most recently the electronic intelligence satellites, Dr. Chander said it shows that “we are looking at space as a holistic segment of defence operations and that’s a very encouraging step.”

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