The Indian Remote Sensing satellite, IRS-1C, which was launched on December 28, 1995, has completed ten years of operation. IRS-1C carried a unique combination of three state-of-the-art cameras – a Panchromatic Camera with a spatial resolution of 5.8 metre, a Linear Imaging Self Scanner-3 with a resolution of 23 metre and a Wide Field Sensor with a resolution of 188 metre. When it was launched, IRS-1C was the most advanced civilian remote sensing satellite. This satellite was launched into a polar sun-synchronous orbit of 817 km by the Russian Molniya Launch Vehicle.

Even though designed life of IRS-1C was three years, the meticulous in-orbit operations of the satellite by the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) coupled with the highly efficient use of the on-board propellant for its orbit and orientation control as well as the high reliability built into its subsystems have enabled IRS-1C to far outlive its designed life. The success of IRS-1C paved the way for India to enter into the global remote sensing market and to capture a substantial share for remote sensing data market. More than US $ 10 million in revenue by data sale from IRS-1C has accrued so far.

IRS-1C data provided a great fillip to remote sensing applications in India like crop acreage and yield estimation, forest resources survey, urban mapping, flood mapping, wasteland mapping and drought monitoring and assessment. IRS-1C was followed by an identical satellite IRS-1D, which was launched by India’s own Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, on September 29, 1997. This, in turn, paved the way for the launch of more theme-oriented remote sensing satellites like OCEANSAT-1, RESOURCESAT-1 and CARTOSAT-1.

In the past one decade, IRS-1C has orbited the earth nearly sixty thousand times and sent lakhs of imageries.