Bengaluru: Astrosat, India's first dedicated space observatory, was launched on Monday at 10 am from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It is aimed at studying celestial objects.
PSLV-C30 is carrying Astrosat, along with six other co-passengers, one satellite each from Indonesia and Canada, and four nanosatellites from the US. With the successful launch of Astrosat, India gained an entry into the select club of nations having its own space observatory after the US, Japan, Russia and Europe.
Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) that met on September 25 had cleared the launch of PSLV-C30.
Commenting on the launch, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman AS Kiran Kumar had recently said, "What it means for India is this: it is one of the first scientific missions which will be available to the Indian researcher community as an observation opportunity. This is a starting point for such things."
While ASTROSAT with a five-year life span weighed 1,513 kg, the six foreign satellites (four from the US and one each from Indonesia and Canada) together weighed 118 kg. According to an official of Antrix Corporation - the commercial arm of India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) - a deal has been signed to put into orbit nine American nano/microsatellites by the end of 2016.
While four US satellites have been put into orbit on Monday, the remaining five would also piggyback on a bigger satellite later.
At the mission control room, space scientists at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth's gravitational pull.
Just over 22 minutes into the flight, the rocket slug ASTROSAT at an altitude of 650 km above the earth.
Soon after, six other satellites were put into orbit and the whole mission ended in just over 25 minutes.
For the third time, a PSLV rocket has launched seven satellites in a single mission. In 2008, ISRO had launched 10 satellites in one go, including India's Cartosate-2A satellite.
Immediately on the successful ejection, scientists at the mission control centre were visibly relieved and started clapping happily. In the process, India crossed the half century milestone when its rocket injected the six foreign satellites successfully into their intended orbit.
Till date, India has launched 45 foreign satellites for a fee.
According to a report in the IANS, Astronat is not India's 'Hubble'. The Hubble owned and launched by the US in 1990 is 10 times heavier than the Astrosat and is said to cost $2.5 billion, officials told IANS.
While the Hubble space telescope is still working now, India's ASTROSAT's life span is five years.
Astrosat is India's first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory. This scientific satellite mission endeavours for a more detailed understanding of our universe.
One of the unique features of Astrosat mission is that it enables the simultaneous multi-wavelength observations of various astronomical objects with a single satellite, ISRO said.
Astrosat will observe the universe in optical, ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum whereas most other scientific satellites are capable of observing a narrow range of wavelength band.
Astrosat with a lift-off mass of about 1513 kg will be launched into a 650-km orbit inclined at an angle of 6 deg to the equator by PSLV-C30.
According to Isro, after injection into Orbit, the two solar panels of ASTROSAT will automatically be deployed in quick succession. The spacecraft control centre at Mission Operations Complex (MOX) of Isro Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bengaluru will manage the satellite during its mission life.
Isro said the scientific objectives of Astrosat mission are to understand high-energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes, to estimate magnetic fields of neutron stars and to study star birth regions and high energy processes in star systems lying beyond our galaxy.
The mission is also to detect new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky and to perform a limited deep field survey of the universe in the ultraviolet region.
Astrosat scheduled for five years of flight carries four X-ray payloads, one UV telescope and a charge particle monitor.
The five payloads/instruments of ASTROSAT are selected to facilitate deeper insight into the various astrophysical processes occurring in the various types of astronomical objects constituting our universe, Isro said.
The payloads are developed by different institutions-domestic and foreign- on their own or collaborating with Isro.
Of the five payloads, the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) is jointly developed by Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru and Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) at Pune in collaboration with Canadian Space Agency and ISRO.
This instrument can observe the sky in the visible near ultraviolet and far ultraviolet regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The second payload Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter (LAXPC) is developed by Tata Institute for Fundamental Research TIFR), Mumbai and Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bengaluru.
The third payload Soft X-ray Telescope (SXT) is developed by TIFR in collaboration with the University of Leicester, UK and ISRO.
The fourth payload Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager (CZTI) was developed by TIFR and IUCAA in collaboration with Isro.
And the fifth one Scanning Sky Monitor (SSM) was jointly developed by ISRO Satellite Centre at Bengaluru and IUCAA.
The Indonesian 76 kg LAPAN-A2 is a micro-satellite from the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space, meant for providing maritime surveillance using automatic identification system (AIS), supporting Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out earth surveillance using video and digital camera.
The 14 kg NLS-14 (Ev9) of Space Flight Laboratory, the University of Toronto Institute for Advanced Studies, is also a maritime monitoring Canadian nano satellite using the next generation AIS.
The remaining four LEMUR nano satellites from Spire Global Inc., San Francisco, US, are non-visual remote sensing satellites, focusing primarily on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking via AIS and high-fidelity weather forecasting using GPS radio occultation technology, the ISRO said.
Apart from Isro, four other Indian institutions - Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics and Raman Research Institute are involved in payload development.
Two of the payloads are in collaboration with Canadian Space Agency and University of Leiscester, UK, Isro said.
With inputs from PTI and IANS
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Updated Date: Sep 28, 2015 17:08:20 IST