ISRO's PSLV C21 rocket successfully blasted off into space on its 100th mission on a cloudy Sunday morning (09-09-12).
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was among the cheering congregation of officials, scientists and media persons at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
On this journey, the PSLV C21 rocket ferried two dollar-paying foreign passengers – a French Earth observation satellite Spot 6 and a Japanese micro satellite Proiteres into polar orbit.
On Sunday, precisely at 9.52 minutes, the rocket lifted off with a deafening roar and thick orange flame powering its upward spiralling journey, amid much cheers and claps from hundreds of special guests from the government, scientific community and media representatives. Located some 80km north of Chennai, Sriharikota hosts the Satish Dhawan Space Centre from where ISRO carries of all the launches of its rockets that put satellites into orbit.
Hundreds of people living in and around the space centre crowded onto rooftops for a live show of the rocket launch, as they have been doing for the past several years. While the people were on their rooftops, Prime Minister watched the historic event from ISRO’s mission control room as the PSLV rocket’s latest edition hurtled away from earth.
Within minutes, the 230 ton rocket was out of the eyesight of the people, its movement being tracked on giant computer screens. After one minute, the ground control said the first stage was normal and in two minutes the second stage started, which was also normal. In three minutes, heat shied was separated. Scientists at the control room were tracking the performance and relaying it over public address system as Prime Minister listened to it in rapt attention. Plus five minutes: PS3 performance normal.
The PSLV C21 was on its way to deliver Spot 6 and Proiteres into a 655km polar orbit inclined at an angle of 98.23 degrees to the equator. SPOT and Indian remote sensing satellites (launched earlier) are the two leading earth observation satellite series. SPOT 6 is the heaviest foreign satellite ever to have been launched by the ISRO, which has made launching satellites as a significant business activity earning precious foreign exchange to the country.
The PSLV C21 cost Rs. 75 crore to make.
More important, it has established the country as a major player in the satellite launching business, which started in 1999 as an additional baggage when ISRO launched India’s own satellite. So far, ISRO has launched 27 foreign satellites and the two of Sunday’s total up its tally to 29.
India is also a major player in the space with a the largest number of remote sensing satellites that send back imagery in a variety of spatial resolutions – from more than meter ranging up to 500 meters. This rich collection of data also makes India an important player in the data market.
India has 12 remote sensing/earth observation satellites circling the earth which makes it a leader in remote sensind data market. – The 12 satellites are :TES, Resourcesat 1, Cartosat 1, 2, 2A and 2B, IMS 1, Risat-2, Oceansat 2, Resourcesat-2, Megha-Tropiques and Risat-1.