From Monsters and Critics.com|
Middle East News
Tel Aviv/New Delhi - Israel launched a sophisticated new spy satellite Monday which observers say could boost surveillance of Iran, whose nuclear programme Israeli officials consider the biggest existential threat to the Jewish state.
India's space agency, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), placed the TESCAR satellite in polar orbit after carrying out the launch under a veil of secrecy, media reports said in India.
It was launched atop an Indian rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
India's IANS news agency reported that Indian officials had kept the launch early Monday under wraps since countries in the Middle- East and Pakistan were opposed to the launch.
According to Israeli media reports, the satellite has the ability to use radar to create images of objects on earth day and night, even in cloudy weather conditions.
This capability is not available on Israel's Ofek satellite series, which unlike the TESCAR, uses cameras instead of radar.
The satellite, which weighs 300 kilograms, was developed by Israel Aircraft Industries. It was launched at 0345 GMT, and ground stations began receiving the first images at 0510 GMT.
The launch of the satellite was originally scheduled for September last year but. The ISRO denied media reports saying that the launch was abandoned following opposition from some countries.
Indian space scientists consider the TESCAR launch yet another landmark in the commercialization of the country's space programme after the ISRO put an Italian satellite in orbit in April last year.
India which is one of the few countries which hopes to capture a piece of the global commercial launch market estimated at 2.5 billion dollars a year. Countries like the US, Russia, China, France and Japan offer commercial satellite launch services.© 2008 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
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