Indian weather satellite launched into space

Posted: September 12, 2002

An Indian weather satellite bound for a geostationary transfer orbit was launched Thursday aboard a rocket tailored for use in lofting spacecraft into polar orbits.

Liftoff of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle's seventh flight was at 1025 GMT (6:25 a.m. EDT) from the newly renamed Satish Dhawan Space Center at the Sriharikota Range along the coast near the Bay of Bengal.

Atop the four-stage PSLV booster with six strap-on solid-fueled boosters was the Metsat weather observation satellite, the first craft in India's history to be exclusively dedicated to such activities.

Before Metsat, India used the Insat series of telecommunications spacecraft to place meteorological instruments into space.

The 2,332-pound satellite was to be placed into a highly elliptical transfer orbit before separating and deploying its solar panels to being producing electricity. Firings of the kick motor will work to circularize the orbit before Metsat moves to its final designated parking slot at 74 degrees East along the Equator, or 22,300 miles above the Indian Ocean. From that vantage point, the spacecraft's instruments will make regular observations of weather on the Indian subcontinent.

The 145-foot tall launcher was originally designed to lift remote sensing and environmental payloads into polar orbit, but was modified to make this mission possible. Changes included improvements in third stage efficiency, adding more liquid propellant to the fourth stage, and a new composite payload adapter to decrease weight.

India's newest rocket is the Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, which successfully debuted in April 2001. The addition of the PSLV onto the geosynchronous market in India provides an alternate option for a variety of weight ranges should problems develop with the GSLV in the future.

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