India's re-named earth observation satellite to launch tomorrow — and it's capable of military surveillance

India's re-named earth observation satellite to launch tomorrow — and it's capable of military surveillance
Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) C49 poised to launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in SriharikotaISRO
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) first launch of 2020 will carry its Earth Observation Satellite-01 (EOS-01) into orbit tomorrow, on November 7
  • The satellite was previously named the RISAT 2BR2 but underwent a change shortly before the launch.
  • While surveillance may not be the satellite's primary function, it is capable of imaging any area across India — including its borders.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is poised to launch its first set of satellites of 2020 at 3:02 pm on November 7 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.

This includes nine customer satellites and one of India’s very own Earth Observation Satellite-01 (EOS-01). The customer satellites will come under the ambit of a commercial agreement with New Space India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO’s operations.

CountryNumber of satellitesMission objective
Lithuania1Technology demonstration
Luxembourg4Maritime applications
USA4Multi-mission remote sensing
India1Earth observation

Indian space agency’s workhorse rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) - C49 will be carrying the payload into orbit.

ISRO’s EOS-01 is capable of military surveillance
The objective of the RISAT mission, which includes the EOS-01, is to use its Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) for all-weather as well as day-and-night observations. This means that it can peer through cloud cover even when there’s bad weather afoot.

The data collected by India’s newest satellite will mostly be used for agriculture, forestry and disaster management support. However, the technology of the RISAT satellites was augmented after the Mumbai terror attacks of 26/11.

Therefore, while EOS-01 is not a dedicated military satellite, it is capable of imaging any area across India in great detail — including its borders. This gains significance with India locked in a standoff against China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh.

And, India is no stranger to using satellite imagery. The CAROSAT series of satellites are the most capable of military applications amongst ISRO’s arsenal. Images from these satellites were used to plan the surgical strikes on terror launch pads in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) in 2016.

The name game around EOS-01
You may not have heard of EOS-01 before 2020 because it used to have a different name.

EOS-01 used to be touted as the RISAT 2BR2 satellite, the third in ISRO’s line up of radar imaging image satellites — the RISAT 2B series. However, the name was changed by ISRO ahead of the launch. According to officials, it was because the space agency wanted a more ‘generic’ name.

The name-game extends further back. Initially, the RISAT 2BR2 satellite was supposed to be called ‘Sanjay’ after Sanjaya in the Indian epic Mahabharata. “However, the idea was shot down,” Senior Advisor to ISRO, Tapan Misra, told the IANS.

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