In its 16th successive,successful mission,the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle placed five satellites into the predestined orbit after a precision launch on Monday,a feat that elated the space community as it came after the failure of last launch.
The payloads included the latest remote sensing satellite CARTOSAT 2B,a nanosatellite fabricated by students of a consortium of private engineering colleges in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh,ALSAT -2A of Algeria,AISSAT 1 of Canada and TISAT of Switzerland.
A visibly pleased K Radhakrishnan,the new director of the space agency who tasted defeat in his first mission as the chief when the GSLV D3 failed three months ago,said that the whole mission including the launch vehicle and satellites worked extremely well as expected to make the project a success.
CARTOSAT 2B,the 17th in a series of remote sensing satellites that India has launched so far,is a sophisticated piece of equipment with a state-of-the-art panchromatic camera on board. Data from the satellite will find applications in cartography,urban and rural infrastructure development and management,and GIS,said ISRO officials. The core alone vehicle,a lighter version that does not have the strap-on motors that boost the ascent,cost about Rs 80 crore while the satellite cost Rs 175 crore.
Besides the main payload,the students effort named STUDSAT is a picosatellite weighing less than a kilogram is the next biggest leap for Indian space research,an effort that Radhakrishnan termed was a national investment.
The foreign payloads were ferried to the orbits after charging commercial charges for each kilogram,said officials,refusing to divulge the exact figure.
The scientists have also lined up a series of projects including a GSLV and PSLV launches each,apart from testing the technology to be used for the much-hyped manned mission to space. They said they would take a step closer to the dream of sending an Indian to space by initially sending a PSLV to evaluate the complicated technologies including a habitable orbital capsule,orbital vehicle system and its reentry into Earth from outer space. The first phase is expected by 2013,Radhakrishnan said.
Meanwhile,ISRO Satellite Centre director T K Alex announced that STUDSAT,an effort of about 40 students of seven different engineering colleges,had starting transmitting data back to Earth,a significant achievement for the student community .