India’s Polar rocket PSLV yesterday (Feb 25th) successfully put into orbit seven satellites in the space of four minutes including a Indo-French oceanographic spacecraft that will study changes in the environment, completing its 22nd consecutive flawless launch. After a primer launch witnessed by President Pranab Mukherjee , Indian Space Research Organisation’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle(PSLV) placed into orbit in one single mission all the seven spacecraft–Indo-French oceanographic study satellite ‘SARAL’ and six foreign mini and micro satellites. The PSLV-C20 rocket blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in clear weather at 6.01 pm at the end of the 59-hour countdown, marking the 103rd mission of ISRO and yet another testimony to India’s Space prowess. The lift-off, scheduled for 5.56 pm, was delayed by five minutes to avoid probability of collision with space debris, a normal cautionary step in a launch mission, ISRO sources said.
Soaring into clear weather, the 44.4 metre tall 230-tonne rocket, in its core alone variant, injected the 409 kg Indo-French satellite SARAL first into orbit about 18 minutes after the lift-off, followed by six other foreign satellites in about four minutes as the scientists broke into cheers. India has reaffirmed its commercial launch capabilities with yesterday’s launch. Mukherjee said the success has reaffirmed PSLV’s efficacy, accuracy and reliability. Reflecting its successful run in commercial operations, yesterday’s launch took the total number of overseas spacecraft put into orbit by ISRO to 35. PSLV yet again proved itself as a reliable robust rocket completing its 22nd consecutive successful launch in its 23 missions after the failure of the first one. The SARAL-Altika satellite, a joint project of the space agencies of India and France, will complement the observations of the seas made by current satellites. It would be one of the very few ocean-centric satellites and a vital cog in studying sea surface heights and other aspects. The ISRO-built SARAL is short for Satellite with Argos and Altika, the two main devices on it which have been provided by French space agency CNES. The two payloads have a mission life of five and three years respectively. Besides building the spacecraft, ISRO will launch and operate it through its life giving a fillip to Indo-French space cooperation. AltiKa is a Ka-band altimeter system, dedicated to accurate measurement of the rise in the sea levels. The satellite would be useful in studying the sea state, light rainfall climatology, mean sea level and coastal altimetry. It would help ocean scientists gather accurate data on the rise in the sea level which could threaten the low lying and coastal areas of the country.