The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ISRO's workhorse space launcher, on Wednesday achieved its ninth successful launch. But this was the first time it put four satellites into orbit simultaneously.
The PSLV-C7 blasted into the sky from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9.23 am and, after 19 minutes, injected the satellites in the intended slot. "We've done it perfectly," said ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair.
The PSLV C-7 is carrying four satellites: the Indian Remote Sensing Satellite CARTOSAT-2, the Space Capsule Recovery Equipment (SRE-1), Indonesia's LAPAN-TUBSAT and Argentina's nanosatellite, PEHUENSAT-1. CARTOSAT-2 carries a state-of-the-art panchromatic camera. Data from it will find application in urban planning, village development and river linking.
CARTOSAT-2 is only the third satellite with such a powerful camera onboard. ISRO will now be pitted against American companies for a slice of the global market for images and data beamed by satellites. "We believe we can offer our products at one-fifth of the cost of our competitors," said Dr V Jayaraman, director, earth observation system, ISRO. "The size of the international market (for such images) is about $300 million-$500 million."