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India To Launch Earth Observatory Next Month

NEW DELHI — India will launch its new Earth observation satellite, Cartosat-2C, in May, in an effort to boost the country’s military reconnaissance and surveillance capability.

The observatory, along with 21 other satellites, will be lifted by India’s indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-CA) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota in south India. It will be placed in a Sun-synchronous polar orbit with a perigee of 200 km (124 mi.) and an apogee of 1,200 km above the Earth’s surface, according to an official at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

The satellite, which was built at ISRO’s Space Application Center (SAC) in the western city of Ahmedabad, was moved to ISRO’S Satellite Center (ISAC) at Bengaluru in south India two weeks ago after undergoing several rounds of tests and evaluation. “All tests have turned out to be successful,” the ISRO official says.

India’s first dedicated military satellite, CartoSat-2A, was launched in 2007. Cartosat-2C will be a dual-use satellite, performing disaster monitoring as well as surveilling enemy missile sites.

The 690-kg (1,520 lb.) satellite is equipped with a panchromatic camera and a high-resolution multi-spectral instrument. With a resolution of 0.65 meters, an upgrade over the 0.8 meter camera of Cartosat-2A, Cartosat-2C can spot even smaller objects from space. The camera can not only capture high-resolution images of disputed border and coastal areas, but also record videos of crucial targets from space and transmit compressed versions to the ground.