New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday successfully launched a revolutionary spy satellite that will help security agencies monitor the hundreds of mountain valleys that connect India with Pakistan and terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan further north.
The PSLV-C12, carrying the 300-kg spy satellite Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2) and the 40-kg Micro Satellite ANUSAT lifted off from ISRO's Satish Dhawan space Centre on Monday morning.
At the end of a 48-hour countdown, the 44-meter tall four-stage PSLV-C12 blasted off from the second launch pad with the ignition of the core first stage.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, weighing 230 tonnes at the time of launch, soared into a clear sky at 0645 hrs IST from the spaceport, about 90 km north of Chennai.
This is the 15th flight of ISRO's workhorse PSLV, which had launched 30 satellites (14 for India and 16 for foreign countries) into a variety of orbits since 1993.
While the RISAT-2 has an all weather capability to take images of Earth, ANUSAT is the first student-made satellite built by an Indian University to demonstrate the technologies related to message store and forward operations.
Designed by the Israeli Aerospace Industries, RISAT can take images through the thickest cloud cover, rain, snow or fog conditions during night and day.
While the RISAT will be used extensively for purposes like mapping, managing natural disasters and surveying the seas, it can also see through camouflage like cloth or foliage used to conceal camps or vehicles.
RISAT will enable India to keep a watch on terror camps, military installations across boundaries, missile sites and suchlike.
However, RISAT is not India's first spy satellite. The Technology Experiment Satellite has been used for photo-reconnaissance since 2001.
But unlike previous remote sensing satellites, RISAT is the first with a synthetic aperture radar, which gives it a day-night, all-weather snooping capability
It should also help keep track of ships at sea that could pose a threat.
The RISAT will reduce India's dependence on foreign suppliers like Ikonos for satellite imagery. But many more gaps need to be plugged. Despite the desperate need, India is still awaiting a dedicated military satellite.
(With inputs from Vishal Thapar)