NEW DELHI - After testing the over 5,000km Agni V missile, which went up to 600km into space during its parabolic trajectory, India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) now feels it can fashion deadly anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons in double-quick time.

"Agni V's launch has opened a new era. Apart from adding a new dimension to our strategic defence, it has ushered in fantastic opportunities in building ASAT weapons and launching mini/micro satellites on demand," DRDO chief VK Saraswat said.

"An ASAT weapon would require reaching about 800km altitude. Agni V gives you the boosting capability and the 'kill vehicle', with advanced seekers, will be able to home into the target satellite,'' he said.

The top defence scientist was, however, quick to stress that the government had not given its nod for the ASAT programme. "India does not believe in weaponisation of space. We are only talking about having the capability. There are no plans for offensive space capabilities,'' he said. The fact, however, remains there is a rethink on the entire issue ever since China shocked the world by using an ASAT weapon to destroy an old satellite in 2007.

Defence scientists are focusing on "space security" to protect India's space assets from electronic or physical destruction. Another spin-off from Agni V test is that the DRDO feels it can work towards launching mini-satellites for battlefield use if an adversary attacks the country's main satellites.

''The mini-satellites will provide communication, navigation and some sort of GPS to armed forces for a limited time,'' said Saraswat.  Agni-V in itself is a stronger booster shot for India's dissuasive deterrence posture, bringing as it can the whole of China under its strike envelope. An even more potent missile with MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles) warheads is in the pipeline, which is likely to be named Agni-VI.

Holding there was ''no government cap'' on missile ranges, Saraswat said Agni-V's ''over 5,000-km range'' was sufficient to take care of India's current threat perceptions. ''We have no problem in augmenting the range if in the future, threat perceptions change. We are not in a missile race with anyone. We are building missiles to mitigate our threats,'' he added.