Isro to launch another ‘eye in the sky’ in Dec

NEW DELHI: Days after launching highly advanced Cartosat-3 earth imaging satellite with military applications on November 27, Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up to launch radar-imaging earth observation satellite Risat-2BR1 with the help of PSLV-C48 rocket from Sriharikota on December 11 to boost the country’s space-surveillance capability.
Altogether, Isro plans to launch four to five advanced Risat-series satellites, of which one was launched on May 22 this year and the third one (Risat-2BR2) after Risat-2BR1 will be launched in the second half of this month. “At least four Risat satellites in space are required for security forces to keep surveillance on a particular spot on a daily basis,” a source in Isro said.
The bunch of Risat satellites, which can see through clouds and at night too, will do 24×7 border surveillance and help check infiltration and keep an eye on terror or anti-national activities across the borders. Images of the older version of Risat were earlier used to plan the surgical strike on terror launchpads in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir in 2016.
The surveillance satellite has an X-band synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with radial rib reflector 3.6 m mesh antenna. “The radar system is a much more advanced desi version of the Israeli TECSAR 1 system. Risat-2BR1 has a powerful 0.35m resolution (two objects separated by 0.35m distance can be distinctly identified) and will cover swath of 5 to 10 km,” the source said.
Besides primary satellite Risat-2BR1, PSLV-C48 will also launch microsatellite QPS-SAR developed by iQPS, a Japanese company, and four Lemur 2 CubeSats for US-based space-to-cloud data and analytics company Spire Global. Weighing around 615 kg, Risat-2BR1 has a mission life of five years and will be placed in the polar orbit at around 560 km altitude. Besides its surveillance capabilities, the all-weather satellite with its SAR will send clear images for their use in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
Earlier on May 22, Isro had successfully launched Risat-2B, same version of the surveillance satellite, which replaced the old Risat-2 after it completed its five-year lifespan. After Risat-2BR1 launch on December 11, the agency will launch Risat-2BR2 in the second half of this month.
Meanwhile, the space agency is targeting to launch 13 missions — six rocket launches and seven satellite missions by March. In fact, 2020 will witness some big launches, including the liftoff of the country’s newly-developed mini-PSLV or Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in the first quarter of next year. The L1 Aditya solar interplanetary mission is also scheduled to be launched in the middle of next year.

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