India’s first ‘spy’ satellite that helped plan surgical strikes, returns home after 13 years of sentry duty

RISAT-2 final orbit ground track (Image courtesy of ISRO)

Photo: Times Now Digital

New Delhi: After serving as a sentry for more than ten years, India’s first “Eye in the Sky” returns to the planet. In order to secure its borders and seas, India launched its first dedicated “spy” or reconnaissance satellite, ISRO’s RISAT-2 imaging radar, shortly after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
Its images have also been used to launch surgical strikes twice in Pakistan. On October 30, RISAT-2 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and crashed in the Indian Ocean near Jakarta.

For an initial life of four years, RISAT-2 carried 30 kg of fuel. However, although it was designed for only four years, it served its purpose for 13.5 years, contributing significantly to various counter-terrorism and anti-infiltration operations.

The surgical attack on terrorist launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) in 2016 and the airstrike on Balakot in February 2019 were both planned using satellite imagery by security and intelligence agencies. information.
Because Israel Aerospace Industries’ X-band Synthetic Aperture Radar served as the primary sensor for RISAT-2, Israel contributed to its construction.

Due to a delay in the locally built C-band for the RISAT-1 satellite, the launch of RISAT-2 was accelerated after the 26/11 terrorist attacks in 2008. RISAT-2 was launched on April 20, 2009, three years before RISAT-1 on April 26, 2012, for this reason. The satellite could monitor all weather conditions and could see day and night.

Additionally, it was used to monitor hostile ships considered a security threat in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea.

The satellite has also been used in rescue operations, such as searching for and locating wreckage from the helicopter crash on September 2, 2009, which claimed the life of Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, YS Rajasekhara Reddy, and other passengers.

ISRO reported that on October 30, RISAT-2 made an unplanned re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere at the predicted impact location in the Indian Ocean near Jakarta. ISRO’s Spacecraft Operations team planned the mission and kept the satellite in the right orbit, and by using fuel wisely, RISAT-2 provided very valuable payload data for over 13 years. .

RISAT-2’s radar payload services have been available since its injection, according to ISRO.

“On re-entry, there was no fuel left in the satellite and therefore there was no contamination or explosion…Studies have confirmed that the pieces generated due to aerothermal fragmentation would not have survived to re-entry heating and therefore no fragments would have had an impact on the Earth,” according to studies.

ISRO’s dedication to the long-term sustainability of outer space has been demonstrated by RISAT-2’s compliance with all relevant international space debris mitigation criteria, the company said.

Christine E. Phillips