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India to orbit Israeli spy satellite in September - paper

RIA Novosti

18/07/2007 15:23 NEW DELHI, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - A leading Indian broadsheet quoted anonymous sources Wednesday as saying the country is planning to launch an Israeli spy satellite in September.

According to information obtained by Times of India, the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO) time-proven four-stage Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will carry a 260-kg satellite named TechSar from the Sriharikota space centre, on island off India's southern coast. The launch will cost around $15 million.

The paper said the launch would mark a crucial milestone in growing Indian-Israeli military ties, and that it was likely that some of the secret images taken by TechSar would be made available to India.

Developed by the Israeli aircraft industry, it will be Tel Aviv's first satellite with what is known as a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). This will allow the satellite to see small objects. SAR is also used by other moving devices on immobile targets, and has wide applications in remote sensing.

While ISRO officials confirmed the launch to the paper, they refused to give details, only saying it would be a "dedicated commercial launch for a foreign customer".

Experts say Israel opted for the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for two reasons. It displays Israel's confidence in the Indian rocket over its own Shavit rocket, which has run into several operational problems in recent years. The Israeli-made rocket malfunctioned in September 2004, destroying an Ofeq-6 Israeli Defense Ministry satellite worth $100 million.

Secondly, the Israeli Defense Ministry has laid down new orbital requirements for TechSar which Shavit was unable to provide. The new requirements are aimed at giving TechSar a wider coverage area, the paper said.

In addition, using PSLV would save Israel $5 million, with the Shavit price estimated at $20 million.

If the mission succeeds, it will be the second spy satellite to be launched by India. The first was India's own Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), which carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle in October 2001. It has so far functioned smoothly.

Prior to orbiting the Israeli spy satellite, India will launch the three-stage Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) carrying the Insat-4CR communication satellite late August, the paper said.

In April, India made its first dedicated commercial launch of this year, orbiting Italia's Agile satellite.


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