An Indian rocket yesterday evening successfully placed into orbit seven satellites — the Indo-French satellite SARAL, the world’s first smart phone-operated nano satellite, a space telescope satellite and four other foreign satellites — in copybook style.
A little after 6 pm, the rocket — Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C20 (PSLV-C20) standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonnes — hurtled towards the skies ferrying the seven satellites together weighing 668.5 kg.
President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed the first of the 10 space missions planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2013 and also the country’s 101th space mission.
With a rich orange flame at its tail and a plume of white fume, the rocket ascended towards the evening skies amidst the resounding cheers of ISRO scientists and a media team assembled at the launch centre.
People perched atop nearby buildings too happily clapped as PSLV-C20 went up towards the heavens. Space scientists at ISRO’s new rocket mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.
At around 18 minutes into the flight PSLV-C20 spat out SARAL satellite. The following four minutes saw the rocket ejecting six satellites in their intended polar orbit. Immediately on the successfully ejection of the seven satellites, scientists at the mission control centre were visibly relieved and started clapping happily.
Mukherjee congratulated the scientists. “Delighted to witness the remarkable launch of the PSLV. I congratulate ISRO for successfully executing the mission,” he said.
Exuding happiness, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said: “It’s a successful launch.” The successful launch of the satellites takes ISRO’s tally of launching foreign satellites to 35. ISRO started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket.
Since then India has been successful in launching medium-weight satellites for overseas agencies. Initially ISRO started carrying third-party satellites atop PSLV rockets as co-passengers of its own remote sensing, earth observation satellites.
Did you know?
In 2007, ISRO for the first time launched an Italian satellite — Agile — as a standalone for a fee. India began its space journey in 1975 with the launch of Aryabhatta using a Russian rocket and till date, it has completed 102 space missions.