Indian PSLV booster hauls a load of satellites into orbit
BY STEPHEN CLARK
Posted: April 28, 2008
An Indian rocket took a 14-minute trip into orbit early Monday, releasing nine satellites from six countries on missions to observe Earth, demonstrate low-cost space technologies and educate students around the world.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off at 0353:51 GMT Monday (11:53:51 p.m. EDT Sunday) from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island on India's east coast. The 146-foot-tall rocket turned south from the launch base, traversing the Indian Ocean before arriving in orbit about 14 minutes after liftoff.
Five minutes later, the nine satellites were all deployed and Indian officials announced the launch was a success.
The payloads totaled about 1,800 pounds, allowing India to use the PSLV's core-alone configuration without the rocket's trademark strap-on solid-fueled boosters. Monday's launch was the third flight of the core-alone version and the 11th successful launch of the PSLV in 13 tries since 1993.
Released first from the launcher was Cartosat 2A, a 1,521-pound satellite built to snap images of Earth along with Cartosat 2, a predecessor launched in January 2007. Both craft carry cameras capable of producing images showing objects as small as about three feet, according to the Indian Space Research Organization, the operator of the satellites.
The addition of Cartosat 2A will give the tandem quicker response times and provide more timely imagery to users. The information will be used mostly by civil government agencies and military forces, according to Indian media reports.
Monday's flight also put the first Indian Mini-Satellite, or IMS 1, into orbit for ISRO. The small spacecraft features two medium- and low-resolution cameras to gather photos of locations around the world. Data from the 183-pound satellite's technology demonstration systems and cameras will be made available to developing nations, according to ISRO.
Eight other miniature payloads rode into space fastened to a support structure underneath Cartosat 2A. Six tiny CubeSat spacecraft, each weighing between two and eight pounds, separated from the rocket within about 20 minutes after launch.
The CubeSat payloads were built by students at universities in Canada, Japan, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
The final satellite to separate from the launcher was CanX 6, a 14-pound Canadian spacecraft designed to track ships using maritime navigation signals transmitted from sea vessels.
A similar German instrument remained attached to the PSLV's fourth stage to conduct communications testing for a system used to relay navigation data from ships through the commercial ORBCOMM satellite fleet.
The ten payloads set a record for an Indian space launch, besting the previous mark of four satellites on one flight.