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EMISAT electronic surveillance satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its next generation electronic surveillance satellite into orbit, along with a swarm of 28 private industry microsats. The four-stage rocket was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 9:27am local time 01 April 2019 with its military and commercial payload.

The 436-kilogram (961-pound) EMISAT system will provide electronic intelligence to India’s Armed Forces using a first-of-its-kind electromagnetic spectrum measuring device that has been in development for at least the past five years by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The sophisticated device is among India’s most highly-classified and closely-guarded projects and will allow the Indian armed forces to detect enemy radar installations. The EMISAT will maintain a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 749 kilometers, while the various commercial cubesats broke away to find their own predesignated orbits at various altitudes. At least 20 of the small devices belong to US company Planet Labs and will form part of its Earth imaging constellation, which boasts a resolution that can distinguish three-meter distances at ground level back on Earth.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was set to launch a locally built advanced military satellite, along with 28 other satellites from international partners, on 01 April 2019 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. This will be the 47th mission of ISRO's C45 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The launch is also aimed at demonstrating the PSLV's capability to place satellites into orbit. "We will be using a PSLV rocket with four strap-on motors. Further, for the first time we will be trying to orbit the rocket at three different altitudes," K Sivan, chairman of the ISRO, said.

The primary satellite will be injected into orbit at 749 km, followed by two fourth stage restarts to achieve a 504 km orbit, where all customer satellites will be injected. Subsequently, the fourth stage will be restarted again to achieve a 485 km orbit to serve as an orbital platform to carry out spaceborne experimentation.

In the fourth stage, the launcher will turn into a payload platform carrying three experimental payloads that include an automatic identification system for maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships. The second payload comprises an automatic packet repeating system (APRS) from India's AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation) that will assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data. The third experimental payload includes an advanced retarding potential analyser for ionospheric studies (ARIS) from the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).

EMISAT is an advanced electronic intelligence (ELINT) satellite jointly developed by ISRO-DRDO. It has a basic architecture similar to HySIS (based on Small Satellite Bus-2) which was first used in SARAL satellite. The satellite has been under development for nearly 8 years. The ELINT payload of the satellite was developed under project KAUTILYA by Defence Electronics Research Laboratory (DLRL), Hyderabad. The project was first acknowledged in the Ministry of Defence annual report 2013-14. EMISAT is a small satellite i.e. it weighs less than 500kg. It is likely to be placed in a highly elliptical orbit (signature SIGINT satellite orbit) so as to maximize dwell time over specific signal recording area.

The absence of large antenna (unless it has an unfurlable mesh antenna which isn’t visible in render) indicates that EMISAT appears to be designed to intercept directed microwave transmissions. The microwave link between a satellite and ground station is highly directional. To intercept tight beam transmission, eavesdropper satellite has to be placed between the ground station and the target satellite. Another use of EMISAT is to determine the location of radar emitters (ground and naval) and command nodes. A single EMISAT will be able to determine the probable location of radio emitters, however, for increased DF (direction finding) accuracy multiple satellites are required. A cluster of EMISATs could mimic functions of a large satellite by sharing processing, communication and mission functions at a fraction of the cost.

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Page last modified: 17-05-2019 17:23:56 ZULU