The Indian Space Research Organisation got richer by about $14 million and enhanced its foothold in the global market with the successful launch of TECSAR, an Israeli satellite, from the Sriharikota Range on Monday.
Also known as Polaris, this satellite operates with an advanced radar system to give the Israeli defence forces a peek into military activity on enemy terrain, particularly Iran.
“This flight augurs well for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which has a good record in terms of 11 glitch-free flights so far. This (TECSAR) is the eighth foreign payload and the second commercial launch by our rockets,” KR Sridhara Murthy, the executive director of Antrix Corporation, the corporate arm of ISRO, said. Polaris was placed in orbit within 20 minutes of a perfect lift-off.
ISRO sources said the organisation raked in about $14 million for this flight.
For the first commercial launch, of an Italian astronomical satellite called AGILE from Sriharikota on April 23, 2007, the fee was $11 million.
The 300-kg Polaris, considered the most advanced spacecraft manufactured by Israel, employs advanced remote sensing technology (synthetic aperture radar or SAR technology) on board to beam images even at night and overcast weather conditions.
In support of ISRO's decision to keep the launch under wraps, G Madhavan Nair, the chairman, said the veil of secrecy was only to meet contractual obligations.
The launch will be an important milestone for ISRO that has set out to grab a slice of the $2.5- billion global commercial satellite launch services. “We got a very good price in spite of competition from China, Russia and the US,” Nair said. “We are aiming to capture many orders because our rocket is reliable and cost effective, offering rides at 70 per cent of fee charged in the international market.”