India sends its 100th satellite into space to watch borders

Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Kiran Kumar Reddy (centre) gestures while meeting with the media after the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) earth observation satellite CARTOSAT-2 was launched at Satish Dawan space center in Sri
Indian Space Research Organisation chairman Kiran Kumar Reddy (centre) gestures while meeting with the media after the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) earth observation satellite CARTOSAT-2 was launched at Satish Dawan space center in Sriharikota on Jan 12, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI - India launched its 100th indigenously made satellite on Friday (Jan 12) as Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeks to project the country as a global low-cost provider of services in space.

India has carried out dozens of satellite launches since 1999, carrying more than 200 satellites for countries around the globe, according to data from the Indian Space Research Organisation. Last February, ISRO launched 104 satellites in a single mission, most of them for foreign customers.

Friday's launch lifted a total of 31 small satellites into space. More than half of the micro and nano satellites were for the United States, and the remainder for India, Canada, Finland, France, South Korea and the United Kingdom, Reuters reported.

"The launch of the 100th satellite by @isro signifies both its glorious achievements and also the bright future of India's space programme," Modi said on Twitter.

India's space programme has a budget of around US$4 billion (S$5.3 billion) and Modi's government hopes the latest launches will improve its prospects of winning a larger share of the more than US$300 billion global space industry.

ISRO used its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C40), part of an advanced remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 series or "eye in the sky", for the Friday launch from Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state at 9.28 am (11.58am Singapore time).

The rocket weighs about 1,323kg, said a senior official at state-run ISRO, who did not wish to be named, Reuters said.

India will use its latest satellites for better border surveillance and obtaining high resolution images of the earth.

"PSLV-C40 is a highly sophisticated surveillance tool to keep an eye on Indian borders and will help the government track progress of infrastructure projects," Reuters quoted Pallava Bagla, a science writer and co-author of "Reaching for the Stars: India's Journey to Mars."

Two scientists at ISRO said images collected by the satellites will be used by the Indian security agencies to track military activities in neighbouring Pakistan, China, Bangladesh Sri Lanka and Nepal, Reuters said.