Sriharikota (AP): The 26-hour countdown for the launch of earth observation satellite onboard GSLV-F10 commenced here on Wednesday, Indian Space Research Organisation said.

The launch of the satellite would be the second for ISRO in 2021 after its successful mission in February, which was Brazil's earth observation satellite Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passenger satellites.

Thursday's launch was originally planned in April or May this year but the exercise was postponed due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Countdown for the launch of GSLV-F10/EOS-03 mission commenced today at 0343 hours from Satish Dhawan Space Centre", Sriharikota, the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said in a notification.

The earth observation satellite would provide real time images of the country and borders and also able to quick monitor of natural disasters.

"The state-of-the-art agile Earth Observation satellite EOS-03 will be placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10. Subsequently, the satellite will reach the final geostationary orbit using its onboard propulsion system", ISRO said in another notification.

The mission was the first flight of GSLV with a four metre dia Ogive Payload fairing that can accommodate larger payloads, ISRO said.

According to ISRO, the filling of propellant for the liquid strap-on motors located on the sides of the rocket has been completed.

The lift-off is scheduled at 05.43 am from the second launch pad at Sriharikota about 100kms from Chennai and the separation of the earth observation satellite 03 was expected to take place after 19 minutes.

The objective of the mission was to provide near real time imaging of large area region at frequent intervals; for quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and obtain spectral signatures for agriculture, forestry, water bodies as well as for disaster warning, cyclone monitoring, cloud burst and thunderstorm monitoring.

The mission life is 10 years, ISRO said. Previous launches of GSLV include the GSLV-MkIII-M1/Chandrayaan-2 mission on July 2019 while GSLV-F11 successfully placed GSAT-7A in December 2018.

The previous earth observation satellite was launched by ISRO in November 2020 onboard a polar satellite launch vehicle.

"PSLV-C49 successfully placed the EOS-01 on November 7, 2020. The mission objective was a disaster management system, earth observation. It was intended for applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support," ISRO said.

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Hong Kong, Oct 25: Amnesty International said Monday it would close its two offices in Hong Kong this year, becoming the latest non-governmental organization to cease its operations amid a crackdown on political dissent in the city.

The human rights group said its local office in Hong Kong would close this month while its regional office will close by the end of the year, with regional operations moved to other offices in the Asia-Pacific region.

This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong's national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organizations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government, Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty's board, said in a statement.

Hong Kong implemented a sweeping national security law in 2020 following months of massive anti-government protests. The law outlaws secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and foreign collusion to intervene in the city's affairs. More than 120 people, many of them supporters of the city's democracy movement, have been arrested under the law.

The majority of the city's prominent pro-democracy activists are behind bars for taking part in unauthorized assemblies, and dozens of political organizations and trade unions have ceased operations out of concern for their members' personal safety under the security law.

Bais said the recent targeting of local human rights and trade union groups signaled authorities were intensifying their campaign to rid the city of dissenting voices. It is increasingly difficult for us to keep operating in such an unstable environment, she said.

Critics in Hong Kong say the national security law is an erosion of freedoms, such as those of expression and assembly, that were promised the city for 50 years when the former British colony was handed over to China in 1997.