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India launches ASTROSAT, 6 foreign crafts, including 4 from US


Sriharikota (AP) : India today successfully launched ASTROSAT, its maiden dedicated space observatory aimed at undertaking a detailed understanding of the universe, and six foreign satellites, including four from the US, onboard PSLV-C30 from the spaceport here.

This was the first time that India launched US satellites, belonging to a San Francisco-based company, under an agreement signed with Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

In a textbook launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, ISRO’s trusted workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), in its 31st flight, injected ASTROSAT and the six co-passengers into orbit about 25 minutes after a perfect lift-off amidst cheers from scientists led by the space agency’s Chairman Kiran Kumar.

The launch was witnessed by Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Choudhry, who later congratulated the ISRO scientists and said the space programme was “exactly going as per our present Prime Minister’s vision and plan” and what he has said in the United States yesterday.

“Relationships our country is now harnessing and nourishing is the reason ISRO was able to launch American satellites from here,” he said.

With a lift-off mass of about 1,513 kg, ASTROSAT was first injected into a 650 km orbit by PSLV-C30, followed by the other six satellites in the space of about three minutes.

International customer satellites that piggybacked the PSLV C30 were the LAPAN-A2 of Indonesia meant for maritime surveillance using Automatic Identification System (AIS), and maritime monitoring nanosatellite from Canada, NLS-14 (Ev9), which uses ‘next generation’ AIS.

The rocket, one of world’s most reliable launch vehicles which clocked its 30th successful mission in a row today, also carried four identical LEMUR nano satellites of a Spire Global Inc., San Fransisco, US, that were non-visual remote sensing satellites ‘focusing primarily on maritime intelligence through vessel tracking via’ the AIS, ISRO said.

With this, a total of, 51 satellites belonging to global customers from 20 countries, including Germany, France, Japan, Canada, U.K, have been launched successfully by ISRO so far.

Declaring the launch successful, a beaming ISRO Chairman said PSLV had put in an astronomy mission which is being looked at not only within the country but also globally to bring in new information to scientific community. “I congratulate the entire ISRO community for the wonderful job they have done,” he said addressing the gathering at the Mission Control Centre.

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