A milestone in our nation’s space capabilities, says PM
The 100th Indian space mission was a grand success with an Indian rocket blasting off carrying two foreign satellites from Sriharikota.
On a cloudy Sunday morning, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C21 (PSLV-C21) blasted off carrying two satellites from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre.
On the terrace of the media centre, a large contingent of media persons cheered the entire journey of the rocket till it vanished into the clouds.
At 9.53 a.m., the PSLV-C21, 44 metres tall and weighing 230 tonne, launched the French earth observation satellite SPOT 6 along with a micro-satellite from Japan into a 635-km polar orbit. PSLV-C21 is the eighth flight of PSLV in “core-alone” configuration (without solid strap-on motors). This is the 22nd consecutive time that a PSLV rocket has taken a satellite.
Coming out behind the lush green trees, the rocket with orange flame in the tail burst in to the sky amid cheers of scientists in the control room and the media team assembled at the terrace of the launch centre.
After 18 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C21 delivered SPOT 6 and a few seconds later Proiteres into their intended polar orbit. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh along with Minister in Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy witnessed the launch.
There was a two-minute delay in the launch due to impact of possible debris in space, K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told newspersons later.
With a lift off of 712 kg, SPOT 6 is the heaviest satellite to be launched by PSLV for an international customer. The Japanese micro-satellite Proiteres, carried as an auxiliary payload, has a lift off mass of 15 km. The cost of the rocket was Rs 90 crore. “We have recovered the project cost,” he said without giving details.
SPOT 6 is a French Earth Observation Satellite capable of imaging the earth with a resolution of 1.5 metre. This latest generation optical remote sensing satellite is built by Astrium SAS, a leading European space technology company.
Proiteres, on the other hand, is intended to study powered flight of a small satellite by an electric thruster and observe Kansai district in Japan with a high resolution camera.
ISRO has sent 29 foreign satellites successfully to the orbit, including today’s launch.
The successful launch of SPOT 6 would make ISRO’s PSLV rocket a strong contender to carry SPOT 7 planned by Astrium SAS soon, said Radhakrishan. India has one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in the world providing imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions ranging over a metre to 500 metre. With 12 remote sensing/earth observation satellites orbiting in the space, India has proved its capability in the remote sensing data market.
A cheerful Prime Minister later addressing scientists at the mission control room said today’s “launch is a milestone in our nation’s space capabilities”.
The launch of these satellites on board an Indian launch vehicle is testimony to the commercial competitiveness of the Indian space industry and is a tribute to Indian innovation and ingenuity, he said.