Putting the dreaded 63-second failure of last Christmas when GSLV-F06 burst into flames and plunged into the Bay of Bengal behind them, Indian space scientists drew solace from yet another edition of success in launching the dependable PSLV rocket that placed in orbit three satellites on Wednesday morning.
The perfect launch of Resourcesat-2, a remote sending satellite along with two smaller satellites by PSLV C-16, scripted the 17th consecutive success for the space scientists who have by now developed an expertise in launching satellites and do it commercially as well. It lifted off dot as the clock struck 12 minutes after 10m from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and completed all the stages as per schedule.
As the PSLV soared high into the sky, so did the happiness of the scientists who just a few months ago were trying to figure what went wrong the GSLV veered off course and began disintegrating when a destruct command had to be given from the ground control at the launch pad.
“The PSLV has once more proved its admirable success rate by placing the payload at a height of 822 kms against that targeted orbit of 820 kms. Today’s launch will be followed by three quick launches by the PSLV in the coming months,” a beaming ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan told press persons shortly after the launch. All top ISRO scientists associated with PSLV and Chandrayan flanked the ISRO chief.
“Resourcesat 2 provides continuity and adds to the capability of Indian remote sensing abilities and the data sent by the satellite would be useful for every nation, whichever erects a ground station can receive the data,” he said and added, the 1,206 kilo Resourcesat-2, India’s 18th remote sensing satellite, will facilitate resource monitoring, environmental assessment and disaster management that can be useful in agriculture, water resources, rural and urban development, coastal studies, geological exploration and forestry.
One of the two smaller payloads placed in orbit was the 92 kilo mini satellite Youthsat, an Indo-Russian mission with the participation of university students from both the countries. It will carry out experiments of Earth’s upper atmosphere. The third payload is X-Sat, Singapore’s first satellite. This 106 kilo mini satellite with multispectral camera is to demonstrate satellite based remote sensing and on board image processing technologies.
Three more PSLV launches are scheduled during the course of the year, Dr. Radhakrishnan said and elaborated that they will place in orbit an application satellite, a satellite to survey the mega-tropics which will be an Indo-French joint venture and RISAT, a microwave enabled remote sensing satellite that will be able to see through dense clouds. “This year we will also be launching two communication facilities using Ariane rockets of the European Space Agency, to augment the country’s transponder availability,” he added.
On the failure of GSLV F06, Radhakrishnan said the analysis was not complete, but the main cause had been identified in about a fortnight of the disaster. “The rocket had failed as the shroud covering the rear portion of the Russian made cryo stage had come off before the separation which loosened the second stage connectors leading to the disintegration of the spacecraft. “This will be rectified in future GSLV launches,” the ISRO chief said.
A high pressure booster pump in an indigenous cryogenic engine that had not performed upto expectations in an earlier GSLV mission has been redesigned and successfully tested. “We are even planning to integrate into the remaining Russian cryo engine to boost its performance,” he said.
He was also happy to inform the media that NASA had chosen to be part of its Moon Rise mission that would involve taking samples from the moon. “ISRO is being considered to provide a communication spacecraft that would orbit around the moon during the mission,” he said.