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India's Risat-1 lifts off aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The April 26 launch took place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Southeastern India.

An Indian Space Research Organization spokesman disputed China’s claims that India’s new Radar Imaging Satellite 1 (Risat-1), launched April 26, is intended for spying.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lauded the launch and the department of space. He had told Parliament that the C-band radar can “image various parts of the country, including border areas.” To queries if India had launched a spy satellite, Indian Space Research Organization chief K. Radhakrishnan responded, “This is not a spy satellite.”

But he added that the satellite can “…do day and night surveillance, which optical sensing satellites cannot. Optical sensing satellites use illumination from the sun to take images of Earth. So those satellites cannot be used at night or during bad weather.”

Risat-1 is to be followed by Gisat, a geoimaging satellite that will provide “near real-time pictures of large areas.” Risat-1 will transmit pictures only during passage over India, but Gisat will deliver data on “areas of interest … sectorwide imaging every five minutes and the entire Indian land surface every 30 minutes at a 50-meter resolution.”

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