Sriharikota (AP), Apr 26: Achieving yet another milestone in its space programme, India today successfully launched its first indigenous all-weather radar imaging satellite RISAT-1 that will boost its remote sensing capabilities and facilitate agriculture and disaster management.
The perfect launch of the satellite catapulted India into a select band of countries having indigenous radar imaging technology.
“Only the US, Canada, Japan and the European consortium have the technology so far,” P S Veeraraghavan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram said. Hailing the launch, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said it was an important milestone in India's space programme and congratulated the ISRO scientists for displaying mastery of the complex launch vehicle technology.
In a textbook launch, the 1,858 kg spacecraft, the country's first microwave remote sensing satellite, was injected into precise orbit by Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-19 about 19 minutes after a perfect lift off at 5.47 AM at the end of the 71-hour countdown from Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, around 90 km from Chennai.
PSLV, the workhorse launch vehicle of Indian Space Research Organisation, achieved its 20th consecutive successful flight when it launched RISAT-1, the heaviest satellite ever lifted by it, in a mission described as a “grand success” by the space agency chief K Radhakrishanan.
RISAT-1, culmination of nearly 10 years of effort by SRO, has the capability to take images of Earth during day and night, as well as in cloudy conditions.
Till now, India depended on images from a Canadian satellite as existing domestic remote sensing spacecraft cannot take pictures of Earth during cloud cover.
“The satellite can give valuable data like soil moisture, glacier positions and other details,” the ISRO chairman said.
The satellite has been successfully deployed at an altitude of 480 km, Radhakrishnan said, adding it would be raised to its desired altitude of 536 km of Polar Sunsynchronous Orbit in the next three days.
The four stages of heavy-duty PSLV-XL variant, used for the third time, performed without any glitch and scientists at the mission control centre broke into cheers when the rocket injected the satellite into orbit, marking the first launch this year a success for ISRO.
Asked whether the satellite would serve any defence purposes, Radhakrishnan said, “The primary objective of the satellite is for agricultural purposes during the kharif season.”
Soon after the successful launch of RISAT-1, the ISRO chief had said this is PSLV's 20th successive successful flight which injected India's first radar imaging satellite precisely into the desired orbit.
India had in April 2009 launched a Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2) with all weather capability but it was bought from Israel for USD 110 million largely for surveillance purposes.