New Delhi: India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C48) was successfully launched into space from Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) spaceport. The ISRO in its 50th mission, launched the rocket carrying India’s latest 'spy' satellite RISAT-2BR1 and nine foreign satellites - one from Israel, one from Italy, one from Japan and six from the USA as "co-passengers".

The rocket took off at 03:25 pm IST from the First Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota on Wednesday. The rocket is the QL variant of PSLV and this is the second flight of the variant.

Just over 16 minutes into its flight, the rocket will sling RISAT-2BR1 and a minute later, the first of the nine customer satellites will be ejected.

The main payload which consists of 628 kg RISAT-2BR1 is a radar imaging earth observation satellite developed by ISRO. The satellite has a survival life of five years. While ISRO maintains that it will help in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support, experts said RISAT-2BR1 is the second satellite in the RISAT-2B series and along with the CARTOSAT-3, it is part of 'spy' satellites that will boost defence forces' ability to carry out Earth surveillance from space.

The first satellite in the RISAT-2B series was launched earlier this year that replaced the ageing RISAT-2, which went out of commission. RISAT-2BR1 will be followed by another satellite of the RISAT-2B series later this month. A fourth RISAT-2B type satellite will be launched later to complete a quartet of 'spy' satellites with advanced earth imaging abilities.

According to a news daily, experts said these satellites will help keep a check on infiltration by allowing round-the-clock surveillance across the border. These satellites are equipped with a synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can take pictures of earth both during the day and night, irrespective of the cloud conditions.

Nine foreign satellites including three from the US (multi-mission Lemur-4 satellites, technology demonstration Tyvak-0129, earth imaging 1HOPSAT), and one each from Israel (remote sensing Duchifat-3), Italy (search and rescue Tyvak-0092) and Japan (QPS-SAR, a radar imaging earth observation satellite) have been sent with PSLV-C48. Till date, ISRO has put into orbit 310 foreign satellites and if the Dec ember 11 mission turns out to be successful, then this number will go up to 319.