India's most advanced surveillance satellite was placed into orbit today with a rocket launched from the country's spaceport in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota. The radar imaging earth observation satellite RISAT-2BR1 was launched by Indian Space Research Organisation or ISRO on board the PLSV-C48 rocket. Nine foreign satellites were also launched on board the rocket that was on its 50th mission.
With clear skies in the background, the 44.4 metre tall rocket lifted off majestically at 3:25 pm. Just over 16 minutes into its flight, the rocket slung RISAT-2BR1 into an orbit of 576 km above Earth. It will have a life of five years.
A minute later, the first of the nine customer satellites was ejected. The launch mission concluded in about 21 minutes when the last of the customer satellites was put into orbit.
RISAT-2BR1, a 628 kg satellite, is meant for applications by the military and various fields like agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
The satellite gives India the capability to accurately identify two objects separated by just 35 cm. According to sources in the military, if India had this capability during its air-strike on a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's Balakot in February this year, the government would not have had to rely on foreign partners to provide military-grade satellite images of the mission's outcome, none of which have been released in public.
Besides this RISAT-2BR1, the rocket also launched six satellites from the United States and one each from Italy, Japan and Israel. It was the sixth launch by ISRO in 2019 including the high-profile Chandrayaan 2 mission in September.
ISRO Chairman K Sivan and other scientists greeted each other as all 10 satellites were injected into orbit. Later, speaking from the Mission Control Centre, Dr Sivan said today's mission was a "historic".
RISAT-2BR1 was a "complex" satellite but was built in a short time, he said and praised the team behind the effort.
India's trusted workhorse, the PSLV has a track record of 48 successful missions out of 50 launches. It has placed around 310 foreign satellites with the first mission in September 1993.
(With inputs from agencies)