ISRO's PSLV C21 rocket successfully blasted off into space on its 100th mission on a cloudy Sunday morning.
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.
As minutes ticked by the scientific community awaited every stage with bated breath. The performance was normal, as expected. Prime minister was seen clapping when the third stage got seperated and fourth stage got fired. His deputy, junior minister in PMO, V Narayanswamy, was also seen sitting nearby, visibly happy.
"Dr Radhakrishnan and all members of ISRO family, I am delighted to witness the launch of PSLV carrying two foreign satellites. I congraulate the department of space on ISRO's 100th satellite launch. It is a milestone in our space programme," Manmohan Singh said.
India has overcome immense odds to set up world class facilities and achieve success in technology, the prime minister said.
Manmohan Singh said that the founding fathers of Indian space programme were right and he believed that ISRO would scale greater heights. He said the scientists have shown that India can afford to invest in high technology areas and hoped that the benefits reach the people at large. Space missions were not a loss for the country and the successes notched up by ISRO were a fitting answer to the questions posed by few whether a country like India could afford costly space programme, the prime minister said.
ISRO chairman, K Radhakrishnan, thanked each and every colleague for the successful launch before the prime minister began his short address to the august gathering.
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.
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.
Vital Stats of PSLV C21 rocket – Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
100th space mission of ISRO