An ISRO rocket carrying the Indo-French tropical weather satellite Megha-Tropiques and three other smaller satellites Wednesday blasted off from the first launch pad at the space port here.
It was a bright sunny morning as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C18 (PSLV-C18) standing 44 metres tall and weighing 230 tonnes soared towards the heavens, ferrying the four satellites together weighing 1,042.6 kg, around 11 a.m.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists at the rocket's mission control room are watching the PSLV-C18's progress. The Sriharikota space port is around 80 km from Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai.
The PSLV rocket will cross the 50 satellite launch milestone since 1993 if the mission turns successful.
Heaviest amongst the PSLV-C18's luggage is the 1,000 kg Megha-Tropiques satellite -- a result of Indo-French collaboration -- designed to study the water cycle and energy exchanges in the tropics.
The satellite will provide scientific data on contribution of the water cycle to the tropical atmosphere with information on condensed water in clouds, water vapour in the atmosphere, precipitation and evaporation.
According to ISRO, Megha-Tropiques with its circular orbit inclined 20 degree to the equator will enable climate research and also aid scientists seeking to refine weather prediction models.
India is the second nation in the world to launch such a space mission.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) -- a joint mission of NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall --was launched Nov 27, 1997.
The French space agency Centre National d' tudes Spatiales (CNES) has built three instruments of Megha-Tropiques: SAPHIR, SCARAB and GPS-ROS. The fourth, MADRAS, is a joint effort of ISRO and CNES.
The three smaller satellites carried by the PSLV-C18 are the 10.9 kg SRMSAT built by the students of SRM University near Chennai, the three kg remote sensing satellite Jugnu from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur and the 28.7 kg VesselSat from LuxSpace of Luxembourg to locate ships on high seas.