Integrated Space Cell

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The Integrated Space Cell is the nodal agency within the Government of India which oversees the security of its space based military and civilian hardware systems. It will be jointly operated by all the three services of the Indian Armed Forces, the civilian Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).


The Integrated Space Cell has been set up to utilize more effectively the country's space-based assets for military purposes and to look into threats to these assets.[1][2] It functions under the Integrated Defense Services headquarters of the Indian Ministry of Defense.[3] This command will leverage space technology including satellites. Unlike an aerospace command, where the air force controls most of its activities, the Integrated Space Cell envisages cooperation and coordination between the three services as well as civilian agencies dealing with space.[3] The armed forces are increasingly depending on satellites for communication, aircraft and missile guidance, reconnaissance and surveillance. Satellites are also essential for civilian purposes such as weather forecasting, disaster management and communications. This has made it important to work out measures to protect India's space-based assets.


The formation of an Integrated Space Cell was announced on 10 June 2010 by Defence Minister Shri. A. K. Antony[4] who said it was being established because of "the growing threat" to India's space assets. "Offensive counter-space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of military space systems have emerged in our neighborhood," stressing that these need to be countered.[3] Announcing its setting up, Antony said while India remains committed to non-weaponization of space, emergence of offensive counter space systems and anti-satellite weaponry posed new threats which had to be countered.[5] The defense minister's announcement comes about 16 months after India's then chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal Shashi Tyagi, told the media that India was "in the process of setting up an aerospace command to exploit outer space by integrating its capabilities".[3] The Integrated Space Cell has apparently been operational for six months before its formal announcement by Defence Minister Shri. A. K. Antony.[6]

The announcement came less than a month after China used a medium-range ballistic missile to shoot down one of its own aging satellites, a Chinese Feng Yun 1C polar orbit weather satellite that it had launched into orbit in 1999. With that, China displayed to the world that it had the technology to knock out a satellite in space, expertise that only two other countries - Russia and the United States of America have.[3] While China's missile test may have hastened the decision, there are broader reasons behind its formation, especially with the Indian Armed Forces relying more on space-based assets for communication, reconnaissance and surveillance.[3]

Satellites operated[edit]

The IRS system is the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in operation today in the world, with 11 operational satellites.[7] All these are placed in polar sun-synchronous orbit and provide data in a variety of spatial, spectral and temporal resolutions. Though most are not meant to be dedicated military satellites, some have a spatial resolution of 1 metre or below which can be also used for military applications. The following is a noteworthy list of satellites:

The Technology Experiment Satellite or (TES) is an experimental satellite to demonstrate and validate, in orbit, technologies that could be used in the future satellites of Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).[8] The Technology Experiment Satellite (TES) has a panchromatic camera capable of producing images of 1 meter resolution for remote sensing.[9] The launch of TES made India the second country in the world after the United States that can commercially offer images with one meter resolution.[9] It is used for remote sensing of civilian areas, mapping industry and geographical information services.

The RISAT-2, or Radar Imaging Satellite 2 has a primary sensor, the synthetic aperture radar from Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).[10] RISAT-2 is India's first satellite with a synthetic aperture radar. It has a day-night, all-weather monitoring capability and has a resolution of one metre.[11] Potential applications include tracking hostile ships at sea.[12] Though the Indian Space Research Organisation sought to underplay the satellite's defence capabilities in its website and in its announcements, a majority of the media preferred to classify it as a spy satellite.[13] ISRO claims that the satellite will enhance ISRO's capability for earth observation, especially during floods, cyclones, landslides and in disaster management in a more effective way.[14]

The CARTOSAT-2 carries a state-of-the-art panchromatic (PAN) camera that take black and white pictures of the earth in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The swath covered by these high resolution PAN cameras is 9.6 km and their spatial resolution is 80 centimetres.[15] The satellite can be steered up to 45 degrees along as well as across the track. CARTOSAT-2 is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery. The data from the satellite will be used for detailed mapping and other cartographic applications at cadastral level, urban and rural infrastructure development and management, as well as applications in Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS).[16]

The CARTOSAT-2A is a dedicated satellite for the Indian Armed Forces.[17] The satellite carries a panchromatic (PAN) camera capable of taking black-and-white pictures in the visible region of electromagnetic spectrum. The highly agile Cartosat-2A can be steered up to 45 deg along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently.

The CARTOSAT-2B carries a panchromatic (PAN) camera capable of taking black-and-white pictures in the visible region of electromagnetic spectrum which has a resolution of 80 centimetres.[16] The highly agile CARTOSAT-2B can be steered up to 45 deg along as well as across the direction of its movement to facilitate imaging of any area more frequently and offers multiple spot scene imagery.[18]


  1. ^ "India in aerospace defence plan". BBC. 28 January 2007. Retrieved 24 Apr 2009. 
  2. ^ "India Begins Work On Space Weapons Command". SpaceDaily. 12 April 2006. Archived from the original on 9 July 2007. Retrieved 24 Apr 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "India goes to war in space". 18 June 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "PIB Press Release". 10 June 2010. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  5. ^ "India to set up space cell to counter threats to space-based assets". 10 June 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "India sets up Integrated Space Cell". 10 June 2008. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  7. ^ ISRO,
  8. ^ "Technology Experiment Satellite (TES)". Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "India's spy satellite boost". BBC. 27 November 2001. Retrieved 31 Jul 2009. 
  10. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "ANUSAT". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2009-04-17. 
  11. ^ Herman, Steve (20 April 2008). "India Launches High-Tech Imaging Satellite". Voice of America. Retrieved 31 Jul 2009. [permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "India's spy in the sky: ISRO launches RISAT-2". CNN-IBN. Apr 20, 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-10-06. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  13. ^ "India launches key spy satellite". BBC. Apr 20, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  14. ^ "RISAT-2". Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  15. ^ "CARTOSAT-2 program data". Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  16. ^ a b "Cartosat 2 and 2B/Alsat 2A/StudSAT/Cartosat 2A/ISRO/PSLV C15 Rocket". Archived from the original on July 16, 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2010. 
  17. ^ " India to launch first military satellite in August". 10 June 2008. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  18. ^ "Spy satellite to catch miners, land encroachers". 12 July 2010. Retrieved 14 July.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)

External links[edit]