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India's space agency breaks dry spell with its 1st rocket launch of 2020

After nearly 11 months without a rocket launch, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is back in action. The space agency successfully launched 10 satellites to orbit Saturday (Nov. 7), including a new Earth observation satellite and several smaller payloads. 

The rideshare mission lifted off Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, dubbed PSLV-C49, from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on the island of Sriharikota, at 3:11 p.m. local time (4:41 a.m. EST; 0941 GMT). 

It was the 51st flight of India's workhorse PSLV rocket, and the second time the rocket flew in a new "DL" configuration with two solid, strap-on motors, ISRO said in a statement. The 50th PSLV mission, in December 2019, was the last time India launched a rocket before the agency went on a launch hiatus amid the global coronavirus pandemic.

Video: Blastoff! India launches 10 satellites atop PSLV
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India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C49) lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Center on Nov. 7, 2020, carrying the EOS-1 Earth observation satellite and nine secondary payloads. (Image credit: ISRO)

The primary payload for this launch was the EOS-1 Earth observation satellite, which is part of India's RISAT series of radar-imaging satellites. RISATs use synthetic aperture radars to provide all-weather, day-and-night images of Earth from space. EOS-1 will collect data and imagery for "applications in agriculture, forestry and disaster management support," ISRO said in the statement.

Also on board this mission were four small satellites from Kleos Space, a Luxembourg-based company that provides reconnaissance data commercially, four Lemur-2 cubesats for the American company Spire Global, and the R-2 technology demonstration satellite for the Lithuanian company NanoAvionics.

With its first launch of 2020 under the belt, ISRO is aiming to launch one more mission before the end of the year. ISRO is currently preparing to launch the GSAT-12R communications satellite sometime in December, according to Space News. That launch will use another variant of the PSLV rocket, called PSLV-XL, which has larger strap-on boosters. 

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her on Twitter @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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