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THE 63rd REPUBLIC DAY R-DAY IN PICTURES
India launches two satellites

Venkatachari Jagannathan

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), April 20 India's all-weather defence surveillance satellite - radar imaging satellite (RISAT-2) - and the micro education satellite Anusat were successfully placed in orbit by an Indian rocket that flew from the spaceport here on early Monday morning.

At 6.45 a.m., the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) soared up in the sky, defying gravity with a deep throated growl, with 340 kg of luggage - 300-kg RISAT and 40-kg Anusat.

After 17 minutes into the flight guided by ISRO developed navigation systems, the 229-tonne rocket slung RISAT at 540-km above the earth and Anusat 10-km further two minutes later to place them into their intended circular orbits.

Immediately after their ejections, the Spacecraft Control Centre at Bangalore with the help of ISTRAC network of stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Mauritius and in other places monitored the satellite's health.

ISRO chairman G. Madhavan Nair said: "This is a fantastic New Year gift for the country. We are happy. Performance of the vehicle is precise. There is no deviation to the planned flight path. Both the spacecraft being delivered into the orbit."

He also said 2009 was going to be the year of fireworks for ISRO. "We will be launching resourcesat, oceansat and others. Indigenously developed cryogenic engine will be inducted this year."

Designed to last a minimum of three years, RISAT can see through fog, clouds and at night enhancing the nation's safety and security.

While ISRO maintains RISAT is an all weather satellite to be used for remote sensing purposes, the presence of a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) gives it defence capabilities.

None of ISRO's eight other remote sensing satellites are equipped with the SAR. ISRO is in the process of developing its own SAR that will be fitted on a much bigger satellite.

In January 2008, ISRO had launched Israel's TecSAR surveillance satellite from Sriharikota, 80 kms north of Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.

India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market earning a sizeable amount.

With the launch of RISAT-2, ISRO will have nine remote sensing satellites in orbit. The others are IRS 1D, Resourcesat 1, TES, Cartosat 1, 2 and 2A, IMS 1 and Oceansat 1.

The other remote sensing satellites slated for launch are Oceansat-2, Radar Imaging Satellite, Resourcesat-2.

"Oceansat-2 is expected to be launched this June or July using PSLV. Piggy-backing will be a Swiss-owned micro satellite. Following that will be the launch of GSAT with Geo Synchronous Launch Vehicle (GSLV) that will be fitted with indigenous cryogenic engine," S. Sathish, director (publications and public relations) at ISRO, told the media.

He said the yearend will see the launch of remote sensing satellite Resourcesat and communications satellite INSAT 3D.

The micro education satellite Anusat, built by Anna University and having a life span of one year, will carry out drought and wasteland monitoring, urban planning and other studies.

"Anusat is expected to prod other Indian universities to built satellites and focus on space technologies," Satish added.

One of the notable aspects of the rocket that went up is its avionics built by ISRO and it weighs less than its earlier systems.

The Indian space agency first tested its new avionics systems called Advanced Avionics Module (AAM) on board PSLV that was launched in April 2007 with two equipment bays.

The first bay had ISRO's regular navigation systems while the second one had the 185-kg AAM.

Satisfied with the test flight results, the Indian space agency initially thought of inducting the indigenous systems into operation first in its bigger rocket GSLV and later in PSLV.

However, the scheme of deployment has been reversed now.

"The ISRO developed microprocessor Vikram is faster than what is being used till date," said Satish.

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