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PSLV-C16 successfully puts 3 satellites into orbit

Sriharikota (AP): ISRO today put in orbit three satellites using its trusted PSLV rocket, the space agency’s first successful mission after the the GSLV launch failure in December last year.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), on its 18th flight, soared into the sky from the spaceport here at 10:12 am leaving behind a white plume of smoke.

Space scientists gathered at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre applauded every stage of the rocket’s progress and its placing of three satellites into orbit at an altitude of 822 kms exactly 18 minutes after lift-off.

Emerging out of the mission control centre, a beaming ISRO Chairman K Radhakrihanan announced the success of the mission terming it as a “text-book” launch. The rocket had maintained its desired trajectory all through the launch.

The rocket placed into orbit Resourcesat-2, an advanced earth observation satellite, Youthsat, the 92 kg Indo-Russian satellite for stellar and atmospheric studies, and the 106 kg X-SAT for imaging applications built by the Singapore-based Nanyang Technological University.

The ISRO chief’s announcement was cheered by the battery of scientists at the mission control centre, who heaved a sigh of relief as they were gripped by an added anxiety following two successive failures of GSLV missions last year.

The 1,206 kg Resourcesat-2 with a space life of five years replaces Resourcesat-1 launched in 2003 and would provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage on natural resources.

The GSLV mission in December last year failed when the homegrown GSLV F06 carrying communication satellite GSAT-5P exploded mid-air less than a minute after lift-off and fell into the Bay of Bengal.

GSAT-5P, carrying 24 C-band and 12 extended C-band transponders, plunged into the sea when the destruct command was issued as the rocket veered from its flight path.

Earlier, the GSLV-D3 mission carrying GSAT-4 had also failed in April 2010, dealing a blow to India’s space programme. Today’s PSLV flight was its 17th successive mission after the failure of its maiden voyage in September 1993.

Radhakrishnan said the launch of two foreign satellites showed the PSLV’s reliability had been recognised internationally.

“It is a glad moment for the entire ISRO community. ISRO has proved its mettle and the mission performed exceedingly well. Its a reassurance to the nation that the confidence in ISRO is fully justified,” Mission Director P Kunhikrishnan said in remarks that summed up the mood of the space scientists who needed the morale booster after the double GSLV failure.

It was anxiety all the way for the Indian space scientists at the mission control since the rocket blasted off and injected the satellites into space. Each stage of succesful separation was greeted with loud applause.

The Resourscesat-2 with three high resolution cameras on a single platform would capture images that will be useful in assessing the health of crops, monitoring deforestation and water levels in reservoirs and lakes besides the snow-melt in the Himalayas.

ISRO officials said it would help in catering to the national and global data needs to address multiple aspects of resource inventory and monitoring in specific areas of applications including agriculture, water resources, rural development, bio-resources and geological exploration.

Data from the satellite would help in facilitating a variety of applications including disaster management and related activities. Apart from the three cameras — with high, medium and coarse resolutions, Resourcesat-2 also has two solid state recorders with a capacity of 200 GB each to store images which can be accessed by the ground stations later.

It also carries Automatic Identification System (AIS) from COMDEV, Canada, as an experimental payload for ship surveillance in VHF band to derive position, speed and other information about ships.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affiars and PMO V Narayanaswamy described the succesful launch as a landmark event and said the Prime Minister and the government “are with the scientists to do more such work.”

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