Monday, April 20, 2009

India Launches Radar Imaging Satellite

Via Times of India -

The radar imaging satellite (RISAT-2) launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) from Sriharikota on Monday is owned and operated by ISRO, its chief said, dismissing reports labelling RISAT-2 a "spy satellite".

"This is an imaging satellite that can identify features on ground. There is nothing as a spy satellite. Though the satellite has a global coverage we will use it only for our use," ISRO chief G Madhavan Nair told reporters at a post-launch press conference.

He was reacting to media reports terming RISAT a spy satellite or defence surveillance satellite launched by ISRO's workhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) early morning on Monday.

However, informed sources said the satellite's synthetic aperture radar gives it day-night capability and the ability to look through clouds and fog, thus giving it defence applications.

The satellite launched on Monday is actually RISAT-2 that was fast-tracked in the wake of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in place of the RISAT-1 that ISRO is developing.

The PSLV rocket also sent into orbit a micro-educational satellite Anusat built by Anna University with funding support from ISRO.

Though the launch went as planned, ISRO scientists spent tense hours Sunday as one of the umbilical chords holding the rocket to the launch pad fell off, damaging nearly six connectors.

"Six hours of countdown time were spent on setting things right," Nair said.

According to Nair, RISAT-2 has been positioned at a 41 degree inclination to enable it revisit a spot at frequent intervals.

Queried about the need for ISRO developing another such satellite, Ranganath R. Navalgund, director of the Space Applications Centre, said: "With two satellites the frequency of visits increases."

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