India today successfully launched a weather observation satellite and 30 other satellites, including 28 of six countries, from a space port in southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
The Indian Space Research Organisation’s old workhorse the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV C-40, 44.4 metre tall, blasted into a cloudy sky after lifting off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, about 110km from Chennai city, around 9:00am and placed all the satellites in two separate orbits in an exercise lasting two hours and 20 minutes.
Addressing the media after the launch, outgoing ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar said everything went as planned today and that the team was able to put 30 satellites into the orbit, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
Around 17 minutes after the lift-off, the rocket injected its main payload -- the 710kg Cartosat-2 Series, the seventh satellite in the series, into the Polar Sun synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 510km. Within a span of seven minutes, the rocket also ejected 29 nano-satellites into a different orbit as it worked its way up the altitude to 519km.
The Cartosat-2 series satellite will provide regular remote sensing services using its panchromatic and multispectral cameras and images sent by the satellite will be useful for cartographic, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation, utility management like road network monitoring, water distribution, creation of land use maps, change detection to bring out geographical and man-made features and various other land information system as well as geographical information system (GIS) applications.
Today’s successful launch came as a big relief to ISRO scientists as it came four months after their mission to launch backup navigation spacecraft IRNSS-1H onboard rocket PSLV-39 ended in a rare failure on August 31 last year.
In August, the heat shield of the rocket did not separate in the final leg of the launch sequence, trapping the satellite in the fourth stage of the rocket. But that problem did not crop up today.
A visibly relieved and jubilant ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar, who will step down soon, announced that the Cartosat-2 series weather satellite, a nano-satellite and 28 other satellites of France, Canada, Finland, the USA, Britain, South Korea and….were successfully injected into the orbit one by one by the PSLV C-40 in the space of about 17.33 minutes since lift-off.
"ISRO is starting 2018 with the successful launch... all customer satellites (besides Cartosat and nanosat) released and the microsat after one hour. So far, Cartosat performance is satisfactory," he said at the ISRO’s mission control room.
ISRO’s chairman-designate K Sivan, who will succeed Kumar, said "we came to the launch pad after four months. Many of our customers came ready with satellites after our previous failure. It shows their confidence in us. We have some exciting launches coming up including Chandrayaan-2, a space mission to the moon.
Indian President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO for today’s success and called it a moment of pride for every Indian.
Modi said the successful PSLV C-40 mission signifies the ISRO’s achievements as well India’s "bright future" in space programme. The launch by "@isro signifies both its glorious achievements, and also the bright future of India's space programme," he said a tweet.
The Indian PM said the success in the New Year will bring benefits of the country's rapid strides in space technology to citizens, farmers and fishermen. Further, benefits of India's success "are available to our partners," he added.
"Out of the 31 Satellites, 28 belonging to six other countries are carried by today's launch," he said in another tweet.