ISRO Launches India’s First Radar Imaging Satellite, RISAT-1
India’s space program took a giant leap on Thursday morning at 5.47 a.m. (IST) with the successful launch of the country’s heaviest remote sensing satellite, RISAT-1.
AsianScientist (Apr. 26, 2012) - India’s space program took a giant leap on Thursday morning at 5.47 a.m. (IST) with the successful launch of the country’s heaviest remote sensing satellite, RISAT-1, weighing 1,858 kg.
The powerful satellite, having a five-year life span, was carried to its orbit by the advanced version of the highly proven four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) which is equipped with enhanced boosters.
The launch took place from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, near Chennai.
Images on TV showed that the rocket pierced the clear blue sky over the spaceport as it lifted off with a thunderous roar, and 17 minutes later the satellite successfully separated from the rocket, setting off a loud round of applause from the scientists and engineers in the mission control room.
After its launch, RISAT-1 was initially placed in a 480 km orbit, and it will subsequently be raised to an altitude of 536 km.
The same variant of the rocket was successfully used for India’s maiden moon mission, Chandrayaan-1, in October 2008, and also for flying a heavy communication satellite in July 2011.
Though ISRO officials maintain that the primary role of the nearly Rs. 500-crore mission is to help in the field of agriculture and paddy monitoring during the kharif season and provide data during natural disasters, speculation is rife that it has a military role too. This theory is triggered by the fact that it is equipped with the first India-made synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
The satellite, whose design and development took nearly ten years, has the capacity to image the earth’s surface 24 hours daily under all-weather conditions. This capability is enough to convince anyone that RISAT-1 is a spy satellite.
Significantly, the RISAT-1 project is headed by a woman, N. Valarmathi, who hails from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
The launch of RISAT-2 on April 20, 2009, preceded RISAT-1 in the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks on November 26, 2011. The Government of India urgently needed a spy satellite to track the movement of terrorists and at that time the country did not have a synthetic aperture radar ready. Israel rushed to India’s rescue and provided the radar which was used in RISAT-2. At that time RISAT-1 was still under development.
Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: ISRO.
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