Page last updated at 07:50 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 08:50 UK

India launches key spy satellite

Indian rocket launch
The rocket is launched from Sriharikota, 90km north of Chennai

India says it has successfully launched a spy satellite that will be able to track movement on its borders.

The Israeli-built Radar Imaging Satellite was launched from the space centre at Sriharikota in southern Andhra Pradesh state.

The satellite was carried on the Indian Space Research Organisation's PSLV-C12 rocket.

India has an ambitious space programme that last October saw its first unmanned mission to the Moon.

The 300kg satellite has been placed in orbit about 550km (340 miles) above the Earth.

Observers say monitoring the borders with Pakistan will be a key task given the strained relations in the wake of last November's Mumbai attacks.

The satellite can take images through all weather conditions and as well as defence duties it will be able to monitor natural disasters such as floods and landslides.

The satellite was developed by Israel Aerospace Industries.

The rocket also contained the Anusat educational satellite, which will help transfer confidential material such as examination questions as well as track urban planning developments and the effects of drought.

In October India successfully launched its first unmanned lunar craft, Chandrayaan 1, to map the Moon's surface and look for traces of water and the presence of helium.

The mission was regarded as a major step for India as it sought to keep pace with other space-faring nations in Asia.

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