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Science &Technology and Defence

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday launched its 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.

The PSLV-C40, which took off at 9.29 a.m, placed 31 satellites, originating from seven countries, in two orbits. ISRO termed the successful launch a New Year’s gift to the nation.

The rocket was only briefly visible to onlookers on a foggy morning. Its primary payload was the fourth satellite in the advanced remote sensing Cartosat-2 series.

The Cartosat-2, whose imagery will be used to develop land and geographical information system applications, weighs 710 kg and was placed in a circular polar sun synchronous orbit 505 km from Earth. The satellite’s design life is five years. The 30 co-passenger satellites together weigh 613 kg.

It was, however, the two other Indian satellites in the C40’s payload that generated the most excitement. Called technology demonstrators, the microsatellite and the nanosatellite showed big strides towards miniaturisation.

The ISRO also used them to send a message to potential commercial customers, placing its microsatellite in an orbit different from the other 30. After deploying all the other satellites, the fourth stage of the rocket restarted twice to move from the 505 km orbit to a 359 km orbit to inject the microsat.

A.S. Kiran Kumar, for whom C40 was the last launch as ISRO Chairman, said the agency was utilising excess capacity to attempt a recovery of mission costs.

“We don’t want to get into the specifics of money. We are not trying to build systems today for commercial launches. We are trying to build capacity for the demands of our own communication, navigation, observation,” he said at a press conference.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre Director K. Sivan, chosen to succeed him was present.

The remote sensing microsatellite is of the 100 kg class with a mission life is 10 months. The nanosatellite, named Indian Nano Satellite-1C, is the third in its series. The INS-1C, whose mission life is six months, carries the Miniature Multispectral Technology Demonstration payload.

The ISRO Chairman said the Chandrayaan-2 was on schedule but did not commit to a March 2018 deadline.

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