New Delhi: In an important landmark for the Indian space program, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV today placed the second Indo-French satellite 'SARAL' and six other co-passengers or small satellites from Canada, Austria, Denmark and the UK in orbit.
Here's a 10-point cheat-sheet on the launch:
- The PSLV-C20, which was earlier slated for blast-off at around 6 pm local time from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, was delayed by five minutes.
- President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed the launch, the first of the 10 planned events of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) this year. (Read: President Pranab Mukherjee hails ISRO for successful PSLV launch) Mr Mukherjee is the second President after Dr APJ Abdul Kalam to witness a PSLV launch; Dr Kalam was present in Sriharikota during one such launch on May 5, 2005.
- It is the 23rd consecutive launch for the 44-metre-tall rocket; it sequentially dropped off the satellites in space in less than half an hour after the lift-off. Later this year, a similar rocket will ferry India's maiden mission to Mars, Mangalyaan.
- PSLV has an impeccable record of 21 consecutive successful flights. The successful launch takes ISRO's tally of launching foreign satellites to 35.
- The ISRO-built SARAL is a 410-kg satellite with payloads - Argos and Altika - from French space agency CNES for enhancing the understanding of the ocean state conditions.
- Altimetre (Altika) would help study the sea surface heights while Argos payload is a satellite-based data collection platform. The satellite will also be useful in tracking resident space objects, including space debris.
- ISRO started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket. Since then India has been successful in launching medium-weight satellites for overseas agencies.
- Initially, ISRO started carrying third-party satellites atop its rockets as co-passengers of its own remote sensing/earth observation satellites.
- Later in 2007, ISRO launched an Italian satellite Agile as a standalone luggage for a fee.
- India began its space journey in 1975 with the launch of Aryabhatta using a Russian rocket and till date, it has completed 100 missions.