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India postpones powerful Earth-imaging satellite launch for 'technical reasons'

(Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation (GODL-India), GODL-India,

A powerful imaging satellite from India that was set to launch Thursday (March 5) is delayed indefinitely due to an undisclosed technical problem, according to multiple reports.

The Indian Space Research Organisation announced that the launch of Gisat-1 was "postponed due to technical reasons. [The] revised launch date will be informed in due course," according to a brief press release,

The satellite was supposed to launch on the Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, on the east coast of India. This was to be the first launch of the GSLV series in 2020. A new launch date has not yet been announced, and no more details about the technical issue were available in ISRO or media reports.

Related: India admits its lander crashed, cites problem with braking thrusters

Once operational, Gisat-1 is designed to work in geosynchronous orbit, which is roughly 22,000 miles (36,000 kilometers) above the planet. This position will allow the satellite to continuously monitor the Indian subcontinent and nearby ocean waters when skies are clear, according to ISRO's website. The satellite will provide imagery with a resolution of 137 feet (42 meters) and will last at least seven years in orbit, according to Spaceflight Now.

The satellite can take pictures in multiple wavelengths of light at the same time, according to the mission's launch kit. Gisat-1's goals are to perform real-time imaging over a large swath of territory, providing rapid information about natural disasters and other short-term events. This data should also show long-term trends in fields ranging from agriculture to forestry to cloud properties. A twin satellite, Gisat-2, is scheduled to join Gisat-1 in orbit in August.

GSLV comes in a couple of variants. The rocket version that was supposed to launch Gisat-1 was a Mark II, while this version of GSLV has made 13 launch attempts, between 2001 and 2018, according to data from ISRO, with 10 successful missions.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.