Early Thursday morning, an Indian rocket successfully launched into orbit a microwave Radar Imaging Satellite (Risat-1) from the spaceport here in Andhra Pradesh, some 80 km from Chennai. With the launch of Risat-1, India has now joined a select group of nations who possess such sophisticated technology.
The indigenously built Risat-1, with a life span of five years, will be used for disaster prediction and agriculture forestry. The high resolution pictures and microwave imaging from Risat-1 could also be used for defence purposes as it can look through the clouds and fog.
At 5.47 a.m., the rocket – Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C19 (PSLV-C19) – standing 44.5 metres tall and weighing 321 tonnes and with a one-way ticket, hurtled towards the skies ferrying the 1,858 kg Risat-1 after unshackling itself from launch pad No.1.
With a rich orange flame at it’s tail and a plume of white smoke, the rocket ascended towards the blue sky amidst the resounding cheers of ISRO scientists and media team assembled at the launch centre.
Space scientists at the new rocket mission control room of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escape the earth’s gravitational pull.
The ISRO-made Risat-1 is the heaviest luggage so far ferried by a PSLV since 1993.
At around 17 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C19 delivered Risat-1 into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 km and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees.
‘PSLV-C19 mission is a grand success. This is the 20th successive successful flight of PSLV.India’s first radar imaging satellite was injected precisely into orbit,’ ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan said after the launch.
With this launchIndiajoins a select group of nations like theUS,Canada,Europeand others to have such an advanced technology. It is a 30 year effort, he added.
‘With Risat-1 we can now forecast Kharif season,’ Radhakrishnan said.
According to satellite director N. Valarmathi, Risat-1 can take images in all weather conditions and during day and night.
‘The satellite has high storage device and other several unique features,’ she added.
For ISRO, this is the first launch this fiscal as well as in the calendar year.
The Indian space agency is planning couple of more satellite launches – communication and remote sensing satellites – this year.
Meanwhile, the solar panes of Risat-1 were deployed successfully soon after it was injected into the orbit.
In three days time the satellite will be taken up to it’s intended orbit at an altitude of 536 km by firing the on-board motors.
Remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data for use. India has the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites in the world providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions, from more than a metre ranging up to 500 metres, and is a major player in vending such data in the global market.
With 11 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in the space, India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market. The 11 satellites are TES, Resourcesat-1, Cartosat-1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS-1, Risat-2, Oceansat-2, Resourcesat-2 and Megha-Tropiques.
In 2009, ISRO had launched 300 kg Risat-2 with an Israeli built SAR enabling earth observation in all weather, day and night conditions.
With Thursday’s launch the PSLV rocket has launched successfully 53 satellites out of 54 it carried – majorly remote sensing/earth observation satellites both Indian and foreign – and has been a major revenue earner for ISRO.
The one failure happened in 1993 when the satellite was not able reach the orbit.
The rocket that delivered Risat-1 in the space is ISRO’s four stage PSLV’s upgraded variant called PSLV-XL.