India launches five satellites at one go

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), July 12 (Calcutta Tube) Five satellites, including the advanced high resolution cartography satellite Cartosat-2B, were placed in orbit Monday after India’s space agency ISRO successfully launched its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket from here.

‘I am extremely happy to say PSLV 16 was a successful flight. All the satellites were injected precisely,’ Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said.

ISRO’s 230 tonne PSLV – standing 44 metres tall – soared towards the heavens from the spaceport here, about 80 km north of Chennai. The five satellites together weigh 819 kg.

Apart from its main cargo – the Cartosat-2B weighing 694 kg – the other satellites that the rocket put into orbit are the Algerian remote sensing satellite Alsat-2A (116 kg), two nano satellites (NLS 6.1 AISSAT-1 weighing 6.5 kg built by the University of Toronto, Canada and one kg NLS 6.2 TISAT built by University of Applied Sciences, Switzerland) and STUDSAT, a pico satellite weighing less than one kg, built jointly by students of seven engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Twenty minutes after blast off, the rocket first released the Cartosat-2B followed by Alsat-2A and the three small satellites.

This was the first successful launch after Radhakrishnan took over as ISRO chairman last year.

‘Two more launches are planned in three months time. One will be PSLV and another will GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle),’ he said.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was present at the launch, congratulated the ISRO scientists on the ‘perfect launch’ and said: ‘ISRO makes the country proud.’

Immediately after the ejection of the satellites, the Spacecraft Control Centre at Bangalore with the help of ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command) Network of stations there and at Lucknow, Mauritius, Bearslake in Russia, Biak in Indonesia and Svalbard in Sweden monitored their health.

ISRO officials had some anxious moments in the run up to the launch.

Originally scheduled for launch May 9, ISRO decided to postpone it as it found ‘a marginal drop in the pressure in the second stage of the vehicle during mandatory checks’ due to a faulty valve. At that time, the rocket was almost ready except for the loading of the satellites.

The rocket had to be dismantled to replace the faulty valve. The problem persisted even after the valve replacement here and ISRO sent the second stage (engine and other systems) back to its assembly centre to be dealt with.

Built to last for five years, the Rs.200 crore Cartosat-2B is India’s 17th remote sensing satellite. It will augment ISRO’s remote sensing data services along with the Cartosat-2 and 2A launched earlier.

The satellite’s imagery can be used for preparation of detailed forest type maps, tree volume estimation, village/cadastral level crop inventory, town/village settlement mapping and planning for development, rural connectivity, canal alignment, coastal land form, mining monitoring and others.

‘With the launch of Cartosat-2B, ISRO will have 10 remote sensing satellites in orbit – IRS 1D, Resourcesat 1, TES, Cartosat 1, 2 and 2A, IMS 1, RISAT-2, Oceansat 1 and 2,’ S. Satish, ISRO director (publications and public relations), told IANS.

India is a world leader in the remote sensing data market and earns a sizeable amount.

‘The other remote sensing satellites that are slated for launch are RISAT (late 2010 or early 2011), Resourcesat and Megha-Tropiques,’ Satish added.

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