Intrigue in India: Iran Interfered with Israeli Satellite Launch

On a cloudy day when the mist hung heavily in the air, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C10, successfully put the Israeli satellite Tecsar into orbit. It was a textbook launch with the “core-alone” configuration of the PSLV lifting off on time from the first launch pad at Sriharikota at 9.15 a.m. on Monday and injecting Tecsar into its precise orbit 19 minutes and 45 seconds after the lift-off. Tecsar, weighing 300 kg, is a remote-sensing satellite that can take pictures of the earth 365 days of the year, 24 hours of the day, through rain, clouds, day and night. It has a one-metre resolution. It was earlier known as Polaris.

Top Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) engineers called this one "one of the very best launches" of the PSLV and "an excellent performance with a perfect injection of the satellite into orbit." But the road to launch wasn’t so smooth. Iran gave sabatoge a shot:

The successful launch on Monday of an advanced Israeli satellite was delayed in recent months by Iranian sabotage, The Jerusalem Post has learned from Western sources.

The TecSar satellite – developed and manufactured by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) – was supposed to be launched in September, on the heels of the June launch of the Ofek-7 spy satellite.

Its deployment will dramatically increase Israel’s intelligence-gathering capabilities regarding the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, since the satellite can transmit images in all weather conditions, a capability that Israel’s existing satellites lacked.

According to assessments recently received, Iran learned of the TecSar’s planned deployment from the media and has since applied heavy pressure through Indian opposition parties – particularly the Muslim and Communist political factions – to prevent the launch.

Teheran’s attempts to sabotage the operation may demonstrate concerns over Israel’s advancing intelligence capabilities. "The Iranians are scared of the potential this new satellite will bring Israel," a Western defense official had said earlier. "They are doing everything they can to prevent its launch."

IAI, the Israeli manufacturer of TECSAR, has more information on the aircraft here (and in the YouTube video, below). And, the ISRO engineers shouldn’t party too long – they’ve got a busy launch schedule this year.