April 20, 2009

India launches spy satellite

India put an Israeli-built spy satellite into orbit Monday, aimed at boosting its defence surveillance capabilities in the aftermath of the Mumbai militant attacks.

The satellite, which can see through clouds and carry out day-and-night all-weather imaging, has been a long-standing demand of the Indian military.

Its acquisition was fast-tracked after the November 26-29 Mumbai siege in which 10 gunmen went on a shooting spree, killing 165 people.

The 300 kilogram (650 pound) RISAT 2 was launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket from the Sriharikota launch site, 90 kilometers (56 miles) north of the southern city of Chennai.

"It has been successfully placed in the orbit 20 minutes after lift off this morning," G. Padmanabhan, a scientist from India's Space Research Organisation told AFP by phone.

India says the Mumbai attackers came by boat from the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

India's existing satellites get blinded at night and in the monsoon season.

The new acquisition will also provide New Delhi with the capability to track incoming hostile ballistic missiles.

India treated Israel like a pariah for decades, but has forged close military links with Tel Aviv in recent years with the Jewish state replacing France in 2007 as its second-largest arms supplier after Russia.

[SOURCE]

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