ISRO creates history, successfully launches record 20 satellites

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Co-passengers include satellites from US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia as well as two satellites from Indian Universities.

Sriharikota: India successfully put into orbit its own earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 and 19 other satellites, including the one belonging to the Google company Terra Bella, USA, on Wednesday morning. With this, India successfully completed yet another multiple satellite launch in a single rocket mission. Exactly at 9.26 am the PSLV rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 tons tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.

Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the ISRO officials and the media team assembled at the rocket port here. At the rocket mission control room Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the Earth’s gravitational pull.

ISRO

Soon after the launch, a beaming ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar said that the mission was a success and new generation Cartosat is in place. The rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (PSLV) main cargo was India’s 725.5 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for Earth observation with a design life of five years.

This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B. The other 19 satellites weighing totally around 560 kg are from US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia as well as one satellite each from Chennai’s Sathyabama University and College of Engineering, Pune.

The images sent by Cartosat satellite will be useful for cartographic, urban, rural, coastal land use, water distribution and other applications. According to ISRO, the 110 kg SkySat Gen2-1 belonging to Terra Bella, a Google company, is a small earth imaging satellite capable of capturing sub-metre resolution imagery and high definition video.

The Planet Lab’s Dove Satellites are also Earth imaging satellites. A total of 12 Dove satellites, each weighing 4.7 kg, were carried in this mission inside three QuadPack dispensers, ISRO said. The PSLV rocket also put into orbit the 85 kg M3MSat from Canada. The technology demonstration mission is jointly funded and managed by Defence Research and Development Canada and the Canadian Space Agency.

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The other satellites that were launched are: 120 kg LAPSN-A3 of Indonesia, the 130 kg BIROS, from German Aerospace Centre, Germany and the 25.5 kg GHGSat-D, Canada. Just over 17 minutes into the flight the PSLV rocket ejected Cartosat at an altitude of around 515 km.

It was followed by the two other Indian satellites—the 1.5 kg Sathyabamasat from Sathyabama University that would collect data on green house gases and the 1 kg Swayam satellite from College of Engineering, Pune, to provide point-to-point messaging services to the HAM radio community.

Soon the other satellites were put into orbit. The whole mission got over in around 26 minutes. It was the first time that ISRO is launching 20 satellites with one single rocket mission. In 2008, the ISRO had launched 10 satellites with the PSLV rocket.

With the success of Wednesday’s rocket mission, India has successfully launched 74 satellites for international customers.

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