India attempted to launch GISAT-1, its most advanced geo-imaging satellite to date, today. The satellite, after over a year of
India attempted to launch GISAT-1, its most advanced geo-imaging satellite to date, today.
The satellite, after over a year of delays, would have sat in a geostationary orbit above South Asia where it will be able to monitor the subcontinent in near-real time. The Indian government had touted GISAT-1’s ability to monitor natural disasters, but the primary purpose of the satellite could have been a national security enhancement, given India’s ongoing border disputes with both Pakistan and China.
The India-China border had been the source of particular tension in the last year. Following a violent clash last summer, both states have reportedly moved more troops to their mutual border. The launch of the satellite would have represented, in part, a move by India to strengthen its hand on that border by allowing it to monitor Chinese and Pakistani troop movements more closely.
Though GISAT-1 constitutes an upgrade in Indian satellite reconnaissance capability, it likely wouldn’t have provided India an edge in the space sector, given China’s already-existing network of military reconnaissance technologies. Given this, expect India to continue expanding its surveillance presence in orbit, where the next step will likely be a launch of smaller, low earth orbit reconnaissance satellites.