India puts another military ‘spy’ satellite in orbit in 50th launch vehicle mission

Photo: India’s PSLV-C48 being launched from Sriharikota spaceport today.

Sriharikota: India today launched and put in low earth orbit a military-grade ‘spy’ satellite, only the second in just 15 days of a similar successful launch from here.

As 5,000 visitors watched, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), the Indian Space Research Organisation‘s (ISRO’s) workhorse, in its PSLV-C48 avatar, successfully launched the 628-kg Radar Imaging Earth Observation Satellite (RISAT-2BR1) in orbit, along with nine commercial satellites.

Source: ISRO

The launch was carried out from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota (SHAR) and this was the 50th flight of the PSLV-C48, ISRO said in a statement soon after the successful launch.

The PSLV-C48 lifted-off at 3:25 pm Indian Standard Time from the first launch pad here. “After 16 minutes and 27 seconds, (the) RISAT-2BR1 was successfully injected into an orbit of 576 km.”

Subsequently, the nine commercial satellites were injected into their intended orbits. After separation, the solar arrays of RISAT-2BR1 were deployed automatically and the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite.

In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration.

Photo: ISRO’s PSLV-C48 at its launch station today.

“Today, we achieved an important milestone in the history of PSLV by successfully launching its 50th mission,” ISRO Chairman Dr. K. Sivan said soon after watching the successful mission.

A book titled ‘PSLV@ 50’ was released by Dr. Sivan on the occasion. “This versatile launcher has lifted off 52.7 tonne into space, of which 17 per cent belongs to customer satellites,” he said.

RISAT-2BR1 will provide services in the field of agriculture, forestry and disaster management, the stated intent of launching the satellite. The unstated intent is to provide a military capability to keep a watch on India’s enemies along its borders. The mission life of RISAT-2BR1 is five years.

The nine customer satellites of Israel, Italy, Japan and the US were precisely injected into their designated orbits. These satellites were launched under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).

PSLV-C48 is the second flight of PSLV in ‘QL’ configuration with 4 solid strap-on motors. Besides being the 50th launch of PSLV, today’s was also the 75th launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR.

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