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India Follows Anti-Satellite Missile Test with 29-Satellite Launch

It's been a busy week in space for India. Just days after the country's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) performed an anti-missile test, India's space agency launched a military satellite as part of a hefty 29-satellite launch.

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched the Electro-Magnetic Intelligence Satellite (EMISAT) at 9:27 a.m. local time in India (12:27 a.m. EDT or 0427 GMT) on Monday. EMISAT was the primary payload on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), which also launched 28 international customer satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

EMISAT is optimized to look for signals from "enemy radar," sources from DRDO told The Times of India, and it has been under development for about five years. "What this allows us to do now is essentially know what kind of radar is at work on the other side, based on the spectrum, and we will be able to read the distance between the radar and our asset, too," a scientist involved in the project told the Indian newspaper. 

Related: India's Anti-Satellite Missile Test Is a Big Deal. Here's Why. 

India deliberately destroyed one of its own satellites on March 27 in a low-Earth-orbit test. While international observers worried about possible satellite debris, in news reports, India has said that the test concluded with minimal shards, which will fall back to Earth quickly. (Coincidentally, the U.S. military did a missile defense test of its own last week, with two interceptors successfully blasting an intercontinental ballistic missile out of the sky, but this was done within Earth's atmosphere.)

As for the other satellites on the PSLV launch, 24 of them were from the United States, while the others came from Lithuania (two), Spain (one) and Switzerland (one). ISRO said the satellites were "launched as part of commercial arrangements." This is the first launch of the PSLV-QL variant, which includes four strap-on motors. Across all variants, PSLV has successfully launched more than 350 national, international and student satellites, including the 29 that launched Monday.

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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 (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.