As the 71-hour countdown progressed satisfactorily, things are set for the launch of India's first Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C19) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota near here, at the scheduled time of 5.47 a.m. on Thursday.

Precision is necessary in the launch hour in view of the time criticality to make sure that the rocket crosses the equator around 6 a.m. Scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) arrived at Sriharikota High Altitude Range (SHAR) from different space centres in the country to make the last leg of RISAT-1/PSLV-C19 mission a success.

SHAR, which is ISRO's primary space launch centre and located 80 km north of Chennai, is all geared up for the landmark event.

The PSLV (XL), a high-end version used earlier in Chandrayaan-1, is to ferry RISAT-1 to an altitude of 480 km, from where the satellite propulsion gets activated to take it further to the 536-km polar sun-synchronous orbit. The space mission is eagerly awaited, as RISAT-1 will herald self-reliance for India in accessing remote sensing data from space in all climatic conditions and round-the-clock.

ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan leads the space scientists' fraternity in taking forward the country's satellite programme to the next level. The scientists involved in the mission expressed satisfaction at the smooth progress of the countdown, which began at 6.47 a.m. on Monday.

With this, SHAR crosses another milestone since the first launch of RH-125 sounding rocket in its operational inception year of 1971. The centre has successfully launched many satellite missions till date. In 1980, Rohini Satellite, aboard the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3, was put into orbit. The PSLV-C8 successfully ferried the IRS-P3 satellite into space in 1996.

From SHAR, India's prestigious Chandrayaan mission was launched, using the PSLV-C11 (XL version) on October 22, 2008.