India launches heaviest commercial space mission ever, 5 UK satellites put into orbit

India successfully put into orbit five British satellites with its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle's XL variant (PSLV-XL) on Friday night in copy book style

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): Heralding a new era, India on Friday launched its heaviest commercial space mission ever with its polar rocket successfully putting five British satellites into the intended orbit after a flawless takeoff.

Indian Space Research Organisation(ISRO) workhorse 44.4 metre tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C28--a PSLV-XL version--hurtled towards the night skies with a rich orange flame at its tail and a plume of white fume and placed the five satellites in sun synchronous orbit about 20 minutes after lift off at 9.58 PM from the Satish Dhawan space Centre here.

"It's been a wonderful mission. We have had an extremely successful mission," a beaming ISRO Chairman Kiran Kumar said from the Mission Control Centre amidst resounding cheers from the assembled scientists. The life of the mission is seven years.

With the overall mass of five satellites being about 1,440 kg, this launch becomes the "heaviest commercial mission" ever undertaken by ISRO and its commercial arm Antrix Corporation.

For the onlookers, the rocket looked like an inverted flare/torch as it lit up the night sky amidst the cheers of the ISRO officials and the media team assembled at the rocket port here.

At the rocket mission control room, Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth's gravitational pull.

Of the five British satellites, three are identical DMC3 optical earth observation satellites weighing 447 kg.

Of the other two satellites, CBNT-1 weighs 91 kg and also is an optical earth observation technology demonstration microsatellite, while the De-OrbitSail weighs 7 kg. This is an experimental nano satellite for demonstration of large thin membrane sail and drag deorbiting.

Just over 17 minutes into the flight, the rocket started ejecting the DMC3 satellites one after another and they were followed by De-OrbitSail and CNBT-1 satellites.

The whole mission was completed just over 19 minutes into the flight as planned.

Immediately on the successfully ejection, scientists at the missioncontrol centre were visibly relieved and started clapping happily.

The three DMC3 and the CBNT-1 satellites are built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. The De-OrbitSail is built by Surrey Space Centre.

According to ISRO, the DMC3 constellation, comprising of three advanced mini-satellites DMC3-1, DMC3-2 and DMC3-3, is designed to address the need for simultaneous high spatial resolution and high temporal resolution optical earth observation.

Launched into a single low earth orbit plane and phased with a separation of 120 degrees between them, these satellites can image any target on the earth's surface every day.

Major application areas include surveying the resources on earth and its environment, managing urban infrastructure and monitoring of disasters.

According to ISRO, accommodating the three DMC3 satellites each with a height of about three metres within the existing payload fairing or the heat shield of the PSLV was a challenge.

Thus, a circular L-adaptor and a triangular Multiple Satellite Adapter-Version 2 (MSA-V2) were newly designed and realised by ISRO for this specific purpose.

France's SPOT 7 satellite weighing 714 kg was the heaviest single foreign satellite carried by a PSLV rocket till now. It was launched on June 30, 2014.

Meanwhile, ISRO is also readying for the launch of GSAT6 communication satellite using its heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

The GSLV rocket's first stage/engine has been assembled and the activities relating to that rocket assembly are progressing smoothly.

Only after the GSLV rocket launch the testing of a small model of reusable launch vehicle shaped like an aeroplane would be done, an ISRO official told IANS earlier.

Earlier, it was said the test reusable launch vehicle would happen in July.

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