First Spysat Launched in India


The first so called “spy” satellite has been launched this week in India, which will be able to predict weather conditions and also send object pictures such as those of cars even when it is dark.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-12 took off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, carrying along with it the spysat as well as micro-satellite which was the first to be built by university researchers. Both the satellites were sent into orbit, about 550km above the earth “at an inclination of 41 degrees,19 minutes after lift-off.”

This radar imaging satellite (RISAT)-2 has boosted up the defense capabilities tremendously. Images of the earth can be taken at all hours of the day, even at night, as well as under rainy conditions and cloudy weather climate. It is the first and foremost Indian satellite that has “a microwave imaging configuration on board.” Madhavan Nair commenting on the satellite to the media said, ” This is the first time we are working in the microwave band. With this, the satellite can see through clouds and identify objects on the ground very precisely.”

Nair, of course, was not so comfortable with the “spy” tag, although scientists claim that it was built on the specifications that were similar to the Israeli spy “Tecsar” satellite, which Isro had launched in January 2008.

Since the Mumbai terrorist attack, the 300-weighing kg RISAT was placed on “fast track development”. Israel provided key equipment, including the Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). The SAR happens to be satellite’s brain and will enable the imaging of the earth. The satellite is well-equipped with many of the antennas and will be able to receive signals and then process it into pictures of hi-resolution.

Commenting further on the satellite, Nair said,” there is nothing like a spy satellite on our agenda. This is just another series in our earth application satellites. RISAT-2 is a very great asset to the country.” Isro, incidentally, is developing its own indigenous radar imaging satellite, the RISAT-1 for earth observation in order to predict floods, landslides and cyclones. The other payload, the Anusat, under development for the last six years, will help in data-sharing between colleges and universities, make online transfer of question papers between colleges feasible.”

The satellite, having a minimum lifetime span of two years and a maximum period of three will be used for intra-university communication, says Mannar Jawahar, vice-chancellor of Anna University.


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