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    Astra missile test fired from Chandipur

    Balasore, March. 25 (PTI): India's indigenously developed Astra air-to-air missile was launched from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near here today.

    The sleek beyond visual range missile was fired from the launch complex-II of ITR, 15 km from here, at 11.56 am, defence sources said.

    The missile has a range of 80 km and its launch speed was estimated to be 0.6 to 2.2 mach, the sources said. Astra has a length of 3570 mm and a diameter of 178 mm.

    A team of scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from Hyderabad and ITR was busy for the last few days at the range, making preparations for the launch.

    The sources said the anticipated evacuation of people living in villages within a 2.5 km radius of the launch site was not undertaken as the missile was fired from an angle that did not affect the area.

    The Astra may be tested again within the next two days.

    But as it was likely to be launched from a vertical position, there would be a need to evacuate over 6,100 people from nearby villages, the sources said.

    The district administration, at a joint meeting with authorities of ITR, had decided to shift the people, including about 1,800 children from 826 families in six villages located within a 2.5 km radius of the launch complex.

    They will be housed in four temporary shelters where they will be provided food and entertainment. They will also be compensated for being displaced from their homes for a day.

    The Astra was first launched on May 9, 2003 from the ITR and its second and third trials were conducted on May 11 and May 12, 2003 respectively at the same range.

    There is also a possibility of a test of Dhanush, the naval version of the Prithvi missile, from a warship in the Bay of Bengal off the Orissa Coast today, sources said.

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