Monday, January 21, 2008File:Pslv-pad.jpg

A PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) on the launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre. This rocket was used in an earlier launch.(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Israel has today launched an advanced spy satellite, named TecSAR, into orbit on board India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The PSLV successfully launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 3:45 a.m. GMT today, with a successful cast off from the launch rocket at around 4:05 a.m. GMT. Israel Aerospace Industries report that the first signals were received 80 minutes after the launch, present at which were both Israeli and Indian space engineers.

The launch was delayed several times for unclear reasons. At one point, it was rumoured that the launch had been cancelled completely due to pressure from the US Government. Indian and Israeli authorities denied this, however, citing technical problems instead.

The satellite, also referred to as Polaris, is equipped with the latest in spy technology, including Synthetic aperture radar, which can be used to provide details information on ground cover. The BBC also reports “enhanced footage technology” – which allows Israel to receive video and images at any time of day or night, and under any weather conditions. Israeli defence officials have said that the satellites main purpose is to track events in Iran, the countries’ number one foe. The events that they wish to track include the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as military happenings in Iran and Syria.

The satellite is capable of a maximum resolution of 10 centimetres, of which the first images wil be available in “a few weeks.” Development of the satellite has been quoted as “tens of millions of dollars” – and India is benefiting from a major boost in the commercialisation of the countries’ 45-year-old space program – which hopes to compete with the US, Russia, China, the Ukraine and the European Space Agency in the satellite launch service field.

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