India has banished the memory of last July’s launch failure, with the successful lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre of their Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in the early hours of Wednesday, 9:24am local time.
The vehicle was carrying four satellites, in what is a key step towards the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) manned space flight ambitions.
The PSLV-C7 was carrying the 680kg Indian Remote Sensing Satellite Cartosat-2, the 550kg Space Capsule Recovery Equipment (SRE-1), Indonesia’s Lapan-Tubsat and Pehuensat-1, Argentina’s 6kg Nanosatellite.
India, which recently noted its cooperation with NASA, has major lunar exploration ambitions, with this mission being used to prove their re-entry technology with the SRE-1 payload.
The spacecraft will remain in a 635km orbit for 11 days, conducting micro-gravity experiments, before splashing down in the Bay of Bengal via the use of parachutes.
‘After keeping it (SRE) in orbit for 11 days, we will bring it back to the earth on the 12th day,’ said Dr B.N. Suresh, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), to The Hindu.
On flight day 10, ISRO will command the spacecraft to alter its orbit from circular to elliptical. ‘This is done to basically ensure that we get daily repetitive visibility for 10 to 12 days so that we can send de-orbiting commands to it from the ground station (in Canada),’ he added.
‘India seeks to demonstrate its capability to bring orbiting capsules back to earth with this launch and the experiment will be a precursor to developing a reusable satellite launch vehicle.’
Also riding into orbit is the 12th Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite. Cartosat-2 is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery. It will join the other six IRS satellites in service: IRS-IC, IRS-1D, Oceansat-1, Technology Experiment Satellite (TES), Resourcesat and Cartosat-1.
The success puts the ISRO back on track, following the GSLV-FO2 – carrying the Insat 4C satellite – launch failure on July 10, blowing up shortly after launch.