The 1,858 kg spacecraft, the country's first microwave remote sensing satellite, was injected into orbit by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle about 19 minutes after a perfect lift off at 5.47 am at the end of the 71-hour countdown from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, around 90 km from Chennai.
Indian Space Research Organisation's workhorse launch vehicle PSLV yet again proved its reliability completing its 20th successful flight in a row launching RISAT-1, the heaviest satellite ever lifted by it. RISAT-1, culmination of nearly ten years of effort by ISRO, has the capability to take images of the earth during the day and night as well as in cloudy conditions.
Till now, India depended on images from a Canadian satellite as existing domestic remote sensing spacecraft cannot take pictures of earth during cloud cover. Lifting off in the backdrop of crimson East from the first launch pad, the 44-metre tall rocket soared majestically into the sky in a mission described as 'a grand success' by ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan.
It was a textbook launch with each of the four stages of the rocket performing as programmed and the scientists at the mission control centre broke into cheers when the satellite was injected into orbit.
"I am extremely happy to announce that the PSLV-C19 mission is a grand success.
This is the 20th successive successful flight of our PSLV. It injected precisely India's first radar imaging satellite into the desired orbit," a beaming Radhakrishnan said. India had in April 2009 launched a Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-2) with all weather capability but it was bought from Israel for USD 110 million largely for surveillance purposes.
Radhakrishnan said ISRO has a "busy year ahead" with several launches slated during 2012-13.
ISRO would soon launch a satellite on board European Space Agency's Ariane 5 from French Guyana and a PSLV with six satellites in August this year from India, he said.
On the much awaited GSLV Mark III, he said the vehicle was "getting ready" undergoing tests at the ISRO facilities.
"The advanced launch vehicle GSLV Mark III has crossed several major milestones, the lower stages have been qualified and we would be taking an experimental flight of GSLV Mark III in a year from Sriharikota," he said.
The attempt would be essentially to test the vehicle systems in the atmospheric flight phase, he said.
The country would also launch an Indo-French satellite (SARAL or Satellite with ARgos and ALtiKa) on board PSLV and a first Indian regional navigational satellite was planned in this financial year, he said.
Veteran space scientist Prof Yashpal termed the launch as a remarkable event. "It is not an event it is an accomplishment."
Complimenting the scientific community, Prof UR Rao said it was a landmark achievement.
For the first time, Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) had been used and it was a very difficult technology and done "wonderfully by the ISRO team".