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India's Key Spy Satellite Maker Sacked, Made Advisor To ISRO Chairman

In an unprecedented move, India's top spy satellites maker Dr Tapan K Misra was summarily sacked yesterday from his position as Director of ISRO Space Applications Center in Ahmedabad, the lab where such satellites are fabricated.

Dr Misra is well known the world over for his role in making the Radarsat series of satellites that give India critical day-and-night oversight capabilities over its hostile neighbours - even when there is thick cloud cover. Dr Misra was the architect of India's spy satellite RISAT 1, which died in orbit under mysterious circumstances due to an implosion that was reported and noticed first by NASA and not by ISRO.

An order issued by ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan said, "he is relieved of all other responsibilities" from the afternoon of July 19. He has been moved to the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru with immediate effect.

ISRO comes under the Department of Space, overseen by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, a known space buff. India used its prized space assets, including its spy satellites, for the high-profile "surgical strikes" on Pakistani terrorist launch pads across the Line of Control in 2016.

Dr Misra has been at the forefront of opposing a sudden move to privatise ISRO assets and was vociferous in raising concerns about why India was delaying the launch of a key satellite that will provide satellite-based Internet services to the country.

An ISRO spokesperson confirmed Dr Misra's sacking but said he "has been appointed as a senior advisor reporting to ISRO Chairman". ISRO chairman Dr Sivan could not be reached for a clarification through calls and messages.

Recently, Pakistan launched its first pair of satellites to keep an eye on India which includes, according to experts, a spy satellite or radars at with advanced capabilities.

Dr Misra has been unwell for a while but has been pivotal in making the India's heaviest satellite that was retrieved back from Kourou in the French Guiana for special tests.

ISRO has recently faced a series of mishaps that included a failed PSLV launch with a navigation satellite and the mysterious loss of the GSAT 6A which was lost in orbit.

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