The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P6, also known as Resourcesat-1 marked a milestone as it celebrated its 20th anniversary in space. Launched on October 17, 2003, by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C5) from Sriharikota, this satellite has been at the forefront of remote sensing technology, paving the way for numerous achievements.
IRS-P6 was designed to continue the remote sensing data services provided by its predecessors, IRS-1C and IRS-1D, with significantly improved data quality with its advanced three-tier payload systems. These included the high-resolution three-band multispectral camera LISS-4, the LISS-3 camera, and AWiFS, all operating in multiple spectral bands, offering enhanced data for a range of applications.
Among its notable accomplishments, IRS-P6 stands out as the oldest Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellite, having completed over one lakh orbits in space. It has maintained nominal attitude control mode and the continued health of all subsystems for an impressive two decades. Moreover, all its payloads and data handling systems remain operational. IRS-P6 was the first mission to deliver data to 18 international ground stations, in addition to serving national users. It holds the distinction of providing global coverage in just five days, a feat that set a new standard in remote sensing capabilities.
This long-duration excellence has been possible due to team ISRO’s design, realisation, operation and management with major roles from U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), Space Applications Centre (SAC), Laboratory for Electro-Optics Systems (LEOS), ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), etc.
IRS-P6 has earned an indelible mark on the remote sensing landscape and continues to serve users with invaluable data for applications ranging from agriculture and forestry to disaster management and urban planning.