India's advanced meteorological satellite INSAT-3D was successfully launched by an European rocket from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana early today, giving a boost to weather forecasting and disaster warning services.
European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane 5 rocket launched INSAT-3D and Alphasat satellites.
Alphasat is Europe's largest telecommunication satellite-ever manufactured and results from a large-scale public-private partnership between the European Space Agency and Inmarsat.
The workhorse vehicle lifted off exactly on schedule at 1.23 AM IST from the Spaceport's ELA-3 launch zone in French Guiana for a nearly 33-minute flight.
This launch provided an excellent view of the flight's initial trajectory, as the Ariane 5 began its vertical ascent, then rotated East arching over the Spaceport's main base area as it progressed downrange.
The flight path was visible between scattered cloud layers and the clear meteorological conditions enabled an excellent view of the launch's first phase including separation of the two solid propellant boosters at an altitude of 67 km.
Alphasat was deployed first in the flight sequence, nearly 28 minutes after the lift-off.
Some five minutes later, Ariane 5 completed its mission with the successful separation of INSAT-3D, which carries a six-channel imager and 19-channel sounder, as well as a data relay transponder for satellite-aided search and rescue operations.
"I am happy to inform you that the Master Control Facility at Hassan in India has already received signals from INSAT-3D", Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation K Radhakrishnan said minutes after the launch.
"We are looking forward to an excellent operational performance of INSAT-3D for the next seven years making a difference for the weather forecasting and disaster warning systems for the country", added Radhakrishnan, also Secretary in the Department of Space, in comments telecast live by Doordarshan.
Radhakrishnan did not travel to Kourou for the launch of INSAT-3D, designed to provide meteorological observation and monitoring of land and ocean surfaces.
According to ISRO, INSAT-3D adds a new dimension to weather monitoring through its atmospheric sounding system, which provides vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere.
The imaging system of INSAT-3D has significant improvements over that of KALPANA and INSAT-3A, the space agency said.
INSAT-3D will provide continuity to earlier missions and further augment the capability to provide various meteorological as well as search and rescue services.
INSAT-3D had a lift-off mass of 2060 kg.
INSAT-3D also carried the newly developed 19 channel sounder, the first such payload to be flown on an ISRO satellite mission.
The Data Relay Transponder (DRT) will be used to receive meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic data from remote, uninhabited locations over the coverage area from Data Collection Platforms (DCPs) like Automatic Weather Station, Automatic Rain Gauge and Agro Met Stations.
India Meteorological Department and ISRO have established more than 1800 DCPs.
INSAT-3D is equipped with a Search and Rescue payload that picks up and relays the alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users to the Indian Mission Control Centre located at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network in Bangalore.
The major users of Satellite Aided Search and Rescue service in India are Indian Coast Guard, Airports Authority of India, Directorate General of Shipping, Defence Services and fishermen.
The Indian service region includes a large part of the Indian Ocean region covering India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Tanzania for rendering distress alert services.