Agni-Vís successful launch a moment of pride for 60 DRDO scientists

When Long Range Ballistic Missile (LRBM) Agni-V took to the skies off Odisha coast on April 19, over 60 scientists of city's Research and Development Establishment (Engineers) or R&DE, held their breath and watched in rapt attention. If well begun is considered half done even in the case of rocket science, the team of scientists at R&DE ensured that's how it was for India's strategic nuclear deterrent. The missile launcher to hold, position and gracefully fire the 50-ton missile has been developed by the Agni Group of R&DE, a DRDO lab in the city. In an exclusive interaction with Newsline, Dr S Guruprasad, director R&DE spoke about what the success of the test means for the laboratory.

"This is a morale booster for the team of engineers associated with the Agni-V launcher. Over 60-70 scientists have been working on various aspects of the launcher such as dynamics, simulation, testing, trial of individual components and systems, besides other nuances. The entire process has been a great learning," said Guruprasad.

Development of missile launchers has not been new for the scientists at R&DE. The laboratory has been associated with India's Integrated Guided Missile Development Plan (IMGDP) since the early 80s.Under IMGDP, the laboratory has successfully developed the launcher systems for Prithvi class of missiles, Akash surface-to-air missile, Nirbhay and BrahMos to name a few. The Agni Group at R&DE specialises in the development of launchers for Agni class of missiles. "The critical aspect of any missile launcher system is that it should maintain the safety of the costly unit and those operating it. It is expected to accurately position the missile, hold it in that position and facilitate a graceful take-off," said Guruprasad. "The core group of 15 scientists at R&DE has been conducting tests using dummy missile."

Guruprasad, who returned from the test location on Monday, can't help mentioning a few 'mathematical aspects' of the launcher. "It is an improvised version of the Agni-III missile launcher we had developed. Given that Agni-V weighs 50 tons, the thrust developed to lift it has to be more than its mass multiplied by the gravitational force. The launcher was thus made using high-strength steel which is capable of sustaining that force. A special jet deflector was used to deflect the high-temperature fumes. The automatic controls release the missile once it is lifted. This is where the job of the launcher ends. Being a fire-and-forget missile, the on-board computer system then guides the missile and directs the force so that the missile moves in a particular trajectory," he said.

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