Sriharikota: India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C26) lifted off with aplomb from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota at 1.32 a.m. on Thursday and precisely put the Indian navigation satellite, IRNSS-1C into its perfect, pre-designated orbit. This was the 28th successful launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
After a long 67-hour countdown, which began at 6.32 a.m. on October 13, the PSLV lifted off from the first launch pad at 1.32 a.m. In the backdrop of a bright half moon, the rocket soared against a dark sky, presenting a celestial spectacle. In the darkness of the night, the first stage separation came across with a blinding flash of light. For several minutes, the rocket travelled across the sky like a dot of light. All the four stages of the vehicle ignited on time and separated on the dot.
“The PSLV has done it again. The navigation satellite is up in orbit and the injection was very precise,” announced an elated K. Radhakrishnan, ISRO chairman, amid applause from the scientists.
The Indian space scientists who arrived from different ISRO centres and organisations in the country, were present in strength to ensure the smooth launch of the XL extended version of PSLV on Thursday.
K.P. Kunhikrishnan, Mission Director, said the satellite went into a very precise orbit, with an perigee of 282 km and an apogee of 20,670 km.
M.Y.S. Prasad, Director, SDSC, said the sub-orbital flight of ISRO’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV MarkIII) will take place from Sriharikota in the next 30 to 45 days. The GSLV MkIII is the heaviest and biggest launch vehicle built by ISRO. It is 42.4 metres tall and weighs 630 tonnes. It will carry a crew module, which is a forerunner to India sending its astronauts into space.
The crew module, however, will not carry any Indian astronauts in the coming GSLV-Mark III flight. The crew module will return to the earth. It will splash down in the sea near Port Blair and recovered.
S. Ramakrishnan, former Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said the launch had to take place at night because the IRNSS-1C had to be put into a special sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit, with a specific inclination.
The IRNSS-1C, the third of the seven navigation satellites in the Indian Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), has wide-ranging applications in terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation. From vehicle tracking to fleet management and from disaster management to mapping, the satellite extends services to its clients.
The IRNSS-C1 carried two types of payloads, one for transmitting navigation service signals to the users and another consisting of a C-band transponder to facilitate Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging.
The first two satellites in the series, IRNSS 1A and IRNSS 1B were launched from Sriharikota on July 1 2013 and April 4 this year respectively.