New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister in a national broadcast informed India and the world alike that we are now placed in the league of space superpowers by successfully testing A-SAT, an anti-satellite missile, DRDO chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy said that the project was approved only two years ago.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Reddy said, “The NSA (Ajit Doval) whom we report to on strategic matters, gave the direction to go ahead with the test and he had the concurrence from the PM. The development started a few years back and we went into mission mode in the last 6 months.”

The DRDO chairman also said that about 100 scientists worked round the clock in the last six months when the A-SAT missile programme entered the ‘mission mode’ to reach the target launch date.

A-SAT, an indigenously made anti-satellite weapon struck down a satellite in the Low Earth Orbit on Tuesday, hallmarking another feat to the credit of the Indian space research ecosystem. It was launched at approximately 11:16 AM from Odisha’s Balasore area, and within three minutes of launch it hit the intended target and demolished it at roughly 300km from the earth’s surface.

“Some time ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 km away in space in Low Earth Orbit… it was conducted under Mission Shakti, which was completed in three minutes,” PM Modi had said in his 10-minute televised address.

Speaking on the capabilities of A-SAT, Satheesh Reddy said, “A-SAT missile is capable of targeting all ‘Low Earth Orbit’ (LEO) satellites. We have the ability to handle LEO satellites but we’ve intentionally chosen low altitudes as a responsible nation to see that all the space assets are safe and debris decays fast. It has a range of up to a 1000km plus…”

Explaining how the A-SAT downed a satellite, Reddy added, “We’ve hit the target by ‘Kinetic kill’- which means directly hitting the satellite. This calls for many technologies which we have developed completely indigenously in the country and we’ve achieved accuracy within a few centimetres… a very high level of accuracy.”

This sort of missile technology enables a nation to distruct an enemy satellite, thereby crippling their communication networks. The feat has put India at par with the United States, Russia and China.