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

gisat-1
(Image credit: Indian Space Research Organisation (GODL-India), GODL-India, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87468177)

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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab),

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 (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab).

The satellite can take pictures in multiple wavelengths of light at the same time, according to the mission's launch kit (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab), with 10 successful missions.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace