The Integrated Test Range of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), located on Abdul Kalam Island in the Bay of Bengal, is bracing for highly unpredictable Cyclone Yaas that has hit the country's east coast.
The test range has three missile launch pads at Chandipur and one launch complex on Abdul Kalam Island in addition to two separate mission control rooms and block houses.
The island, which is about two kilometres-long with an area of 390 acres, is strategically located and considered the most advanced missile testing site in India.
Milan Kumar Pal, the spokesperson of the DRDO, the research and development wing of India's Ministry of Defence, said, "we have prepared for the very severe cyclonic storm and are implementing the standard operating procedures prepared by the DRDO. We are ready to face any eventuality".
"While the safety of critical installations has been ensured, vital equipment are stored inside laboratories", he said.
Cyclone Yaas, which changed its projected route three times in two days, made landfall on Wednesday morning in the state of Odisha. The Bhadrak district, where Abdul Kalam Island is located, is expected to be the worst impacted.
About 600,000 people have been evacuated by the government in Odisha and another 1.1 million people moved to safer places in the state of West Bengal. A record number of 115 National Disaster Response Force teams have been deployed for relief operations by the federal government.
Pray for digha 🙏#Digha #YaasCyclone pic.twitter.com/BCXVqJk76y— Moumika (@Moumika6) May 26, 2021
Now Odisha fighting with the Cyclone #YAAS.#YAAS#CYCLONE #ODISHA pic.twitter.com/yLBAbGppG2— Sunil Patra 🇮🇳 (@SunilPatra99) May 26, 2021
The DRDO launched the missile testing facility in 1982 as a project under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme. The island has seen the test-launching of India's most prestigious missiles, including the nuclear capable Prithvi (Earth) and Agni (Fire).
In 2019, India became the fourth country in the world, apart from Russia, the US, and China to demonstrate a capability to shoot down satellites in space. The missile was launched from Abdul Kalam Island.
Since a 1999 super cyclone, the testing range has withstood over a dozen similar storms, including "Amphan" and "Bubul". The facilities on the island are believed to be constructed to take on winds up to 400 km per hour. In 1999, it successfully bore the impact of the Super Cyclone, one of the most intense recorded tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean.