|Israeli Space-Based Radar Set for Indian Launch
Aviation Week & Space Technology
09/17/2007, page 28
Israeli space-based radar set for Indian launch as Pentagon’s new commercial recon poised for Vandenberg flight
Military space reconnaissance capabilities are proliferating. This week, the U.S., Israel, India, China and Brazil could advance their commercial, technological and strategic interests with new milsats set to be launched.
Once aloft, the satellites will look into each other’s backyards and try to steal each other’s customers. And they all will be watching Iran.
Israeli Polaris and Indian Cartosat 2A reconnaissance spacecraft will be launched atop the same Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from an island in the Bay of Bengal.Credit: INDIAN SPACE RESEARCH ORGANIZATION
The missions—scheduled for Sept. 17-20—have been developed by a diverse set of companies and thousands of engineers and technicians whose efforts will benefit their respective military programs beyond the intelligence operations the spacecraft will support.
The programs show how military space is maturing around the world and, with it, the growing capability of nations to make their own decisions based on in-house space intelligence data—not massaged information from the major space powers—the U.S., Russia and China.
In a unique flight scheduled for liftoff from India Sept. 17-20, Israel’s first “Polaris/TecSat” military imaging radar satellite is to be launched along with India’s first military recon spacecraft. They will be fired into an approximately 600-km. (372-mi.) polar orbit atop the same powerful Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
The mission, from India’s launch site on an island in the Bay of Bengal, will also inaugurate major military space cooperation between India and Israel.
If successful, the Israeli space-based radar will put Israel among the small list of nations with imaging radar reconnaissance satellites able to distinguish camouflaged vehicles from rocky terrain, for example, and to see at night and through clouds and foliage.
The launch of Polaris 1 will also provide Israel with a new capability that will be focused heavily on Iran, including obtaining data for a potential Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Although largely classified, the Israeli spacecraft’s electronically steered, synthetic aperture radar has 1-meter resolution and differing spot, mosaic and strip modes (see diagram, p. 31). These modes provide a multitude of different radar aspect angles from which to illuminate targets on the ground.
The Polaris modes should provide space-based radar imaging intelligence products that are similar in quality to the multimode U-2’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar 2A sensor, according to Jeff Grant, vice president for business development at Northrop Grumman.
That will enable its products to be used in connection with change-detection software and imagery that can be overlaid with diverse data from other Israeli space or UAV systems.
The other satellite on the PSLV/Polaris mission—the Indian Cartosat 2A spacecraft—remains secret, but carries a powerful panchromatic camera. India is already highly accomplished in the development of remote-sensing spacecraft and should be able to step up easily to higher resolution military imaging satellites.
And India is also interested in purchasing the Polaris imaging radar satellite design from Israel for its own military reconnaissance operations, which are focused heavily on Pakistan, China and, increasingly, the U.S., according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.