India today successfully launched its first indigenous 'spy satellite' RISAT-1. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) carrying the radar imaging satellite lifted off from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh at 5.47 am. Minutes later, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan declared the mission "a grand success".
"PSLV-C19 has successfully injected India's first indigenous radar imaging satellite RISAT-1 into orbit. It is a proud moment for India," he said. (Watch)
The 44.5 metres tall, 321-tonne PSLV-C19 ascended towards the sky amidst resounding cheers of ISRO scientists. Around 17 minutes after the lift-off, it placed RISAT-1 into a polar circular orbit at an altitude of 480 kilometres and an orbital inclination of 97.552 degrees. Each of the four stages of the rocket performed as programmed. This is the 20th consecutively successive successful flight of the PSLV. (Read: Top 10 must-know facts)
RISAT-1 has day and night viewing capacity and will not be blinded by cloud cover. It will orbit the earth 14 times a day. It will help in crop monitoring and flood forecasting during Kharif season. It gives India the ability of continuous surveillance. The all-weather surveillance tool is hence sometimes referred as a spy satellite in common parlance.
Weighing 1,858 kilograms, RISAT-1 is the heaviest satellite ever launched from India. It took ISRO 10 years to make this sophisticated satellite. The total cost of the mission is about Rs 500 crores. It is probably India's most expensive mission hoisted from Sriharikota till date.
RISAT-1 carries a C-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) payload, operating in a multi-polarisation and multi-resolution mode and can provide images with coarse, fine and high spatial resolutions. It has a nominal mission life of five years. It can have a resolution of about 1 meter.
RISAT-1's project director N Valarmathi is the first woman to head a remote-sensing satellite project.
Apart from RISAT-1, India already has another spy satellite RISAT-2 which was launched in 2009. It was acquired from Israel for ABOUT $110 million.
RISAT-1's launch comes exactly a week after India successfully test-fired its first Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Agni-V.