The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched the RISAT-2BR1 from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, at 03.25 pm on 11 December.
The launch, marking a significant milestone, marks the 50th mission of the PSLV-C48 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) for the space agency, and also the 75th vehicle mission from Sriharikota.
The RISAT-2BR1, a Radar-imaging earth observation satellite, weighing about 628 kg, will be placed into an orbit of 576 km at an inclination of 37 degrees.
The PSLV-C48 is also carrying nine customer satellites for Israel (1), Italy (1), Japan (1) and the USA (6) as co-passengers. These international customer satellites are being launched under a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
Officially, the programme performs remote sensing to support agricultural projects, forestry and disaster management; however, RISAT is primarily designed for military surveillance.
The RISAT-2BR1 is equipped with special X-band radar which is capable of providing much better images than currently available from RISAT series satellites, which are unable to deliver high-resolution images in conditions of heavy cloud cover.
An advanced satellite, which features high-resolution imaging capabilities, carries a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) payload which transmits radio signals towards the Earth's surface and records how they are reflected back towards the satellite. Processing echoes detected from the original signal allows the satellite to build up a profile of the ground below it.
It can collect images even at night, as it uses radio waves – transmitted from the satellite – instead of visible light from the Sun to illuminate the Earth.
The satellite holds immense significance for the armed forces, with an Indian Air Force (IAF) official reportedly saying that one Mirage 2000 had missed its target during India's airstrike in Pakistan's Balakot area, while targeting suspected terror camps on 26 February due to inclement weather.