India puts spy satellite, 28 micro satellites in orbits

Days after testing an A-SAT (anti-satellite) missile to shoot down a low earth orbit (LEO) satellite in space, India on Monday successfully launched its next generation electronic surveillance satellite into orbit along with some 28 commercial miniature satellites belonging to the US, Switzerland, Lithuania and Spain.

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) four-stage rocket blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 9.27am local time with its military and commercial payload.

The EMISAT system will provide electronic intelligence to India’s armed forces using an electromagnetic spectrum measuring device developed by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The A-SAT missile was also developed by DRDO’s scientists.

The latest device will help armed forces to detect enemy’s radar installations.

The EMISAT will maintain a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 749 kilometres. The commercial microsatellites broke away to find their own pre-designated orbits at various altitudes.

At least 20 of the miniature satellites called Doves belong to the San Francisco-based firm, Planet Labs. Each of these satellites is equipped with a high-powered telescope and camera.

They will form part of Planet Labs’ largest satellite constellation providing a complete image of Earth once every day at 3–5 metre optical resolution.

The remaining eight miniature satellites belong to private companies from Switzerland, Lithuania and Spain.

Industry played a big role in this mission. Nearly 95% of hardware and 60-70 per cent of the satellite components were fabricated outside Isro. Isro has lined up some 30 missions for this year, including launch vehicles and space crafts.