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India Hails Success of Complicated Rocket Launch

India Hails Success of Complicated Rocket Launch
An Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle hauls multiple satellites into orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on April 28, 2008. (Image credit: ISRO.)

BANGALORE,India -- The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) placed two domestic andeight foreign satellites in orbit Monday in what the agency said was the mostcomplex mission launched as yet by its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

The missiontook place from ISRO's second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre inSriharikota on the east coast of southern India. The rocket flew without itsusual six strap-on boosters carrying ISRO's Cartosat-2A and Indian MiniSatellite-1 satellites, along with eight nanosatellites built by universitiesand research institutions in Canada and other countries.

In atelevised announcement immediately following the launch, ISRO Chairman GopalanMadhavan Nair said the rocket stuck to its path without deviation "anddelivered all the 10 satellites in their intended orbit."

The mostsatellites the PSLV has launched in any previous mission was four.

It was thePSLV's 13th flight and the third in the so-called core alone configuration. Thetotal payload mass, at 823 kilograms, was the most carried by the rocket inthis configuration.

"Thechallenge was that the fourth stage of the rocket should eject the 10satellites in a programmed sequence, each time reorienting itself," ISROspokesman S. Satish told Space News. "It is a complex task."

The primarypayload, the 690-kilogram Cartosat-2A, carries a panchromatic camera capable oftaking black-and-white pictures with a spatial resolution of 1 meter and aswath width of about 9.6 kilometers, Satish said. The satellite is steerablealong its fore and aft axis as well as from side to side to facilitate imagingof any area more frequently, he said.

Cartosat-2Awill complement Cartosat-2, launchedJan. 10, 2007, "providing more frequent revisit," of specific sitesof interest, Satish said. He declined to comment on whether the satellite isintended for military use.

The IndianMini Satellite-1, weighing 83 kilograms, incorporates new technologiesandminiaturized subsystems, an ISRO press release said. It carries two opticalpayloads - a multispectral camera with spatial resolution of 37 meters and aswath of 151 kilometers, and a hyperspectral sensor with 506-meter resolutionand 129.5 kilometer swath width, the release said.

The datafrom the Mini satellite, formerly named Third World Satellite, will be madeavailable free of cost to developing countries, Satish said.

Thenanosatellite launches were arranged by Antrix Corp., ISRO's commercial arm.The weight of each ranged from 3 kilograms to 16 kilograms for a total weightof about 50 kilograms, the ISRO release said.

Six of theeight nanosatellites are clustered together with the collective name NLS-4. Theother two are NLS-5 and Rubin-8. The NLS-4 package, assembled by the Universityof Toronto, consists of satellites developed by various universities. Two ofthem -- Cute 1.7 and Seeds -- were built in Japan. The others, Can-X2,AAUSat-2, Compass-1 and Delphi-C3 were built in Canada, Denmark, Germany andthe Netherlands, respectively. NLS-5 was built by the University of Toronto andRubin-8 was built by Cosmos International, Germany.

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