India’s workhorse launch vehicle, PSLV, put the country’s first microwave radar imaging satellite – RISAT-1 – into orbit, the 20th successful launch since its inception in 1993.
RISAT-1 is the heaviest satellite with 1850 kg launched by PSLV. It was injected at a point 480 kms above the earth. Though the avowed applications of the satellite are in agriculture and management of natural disasters, its cloud penetration and day and night imaging capability will provide the country an eye from the sky. Over the next three days, its satellite onboard propulsion system will raise the attitude to 536 kms above the earth, where it will circle the planet over the poles 14 times a day.
The lift off was accomplished at 5.47 am on Thursday (April 26) from Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhavan Space Centre at Sriharikota, 80 km from the southern city of Chennai.
“The twentieth consecutive successful launch of the PSLV is an important milestone in our space programme and is testimony to ISRO’s mastery of the complex launch vehicle technology,” said Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in a congratulatory message to the ISRO scientists. “I have no doubt that RISAT-1’s all-weather, day-night imaging ability will significantly contribute to the nation’s remote sensing capabilities.”
Addressing a post-launch press conference, ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Radhakrishnan said the space agency plans at least three more satellite launches from Sriharikota, including another PSLV flight in August, carrying six satellites. He said, ISRO will also try to launch a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine later in the year.
India has emerged a world leader in space technology, with the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions from more than a metre ranging upto 500 meters. It has 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites currently in the space.