By Venkatachari Jagannathan
25 February 2013
An Indian rocket carrying seven satellites - the Indo-French satellite SARAL, world's first smart phone-operated nano satellite, a space telescope satellite and four other foreign satellites - Monday blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, around 80 km north of Chennai.
A little after 6 p.m., the rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C20 (PSLV-C20) - standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonnes hurtled towards the skies ferrying seven satellites to sling into orbit.
President Pranab Mukherjee and scientists at Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) rocket mission control room intently watched the rocket's progress towards the heavens, escaping the earth's gravitational pull with a one way ticket.
ISRO officials are hoping that the agency's 101th space mission and also the first of the 10 planned for 2013 will turn out to be a grand success.
The PSLV-C20 rocket is expected to deliver its main luggage - the 407-kg SARAL (Satellite with ARGOS and ALTIKA) and six other foreign satellites 794 km above the earth.
The entire flight sequence - lift-off to the ejection of the seventh satellite - will take around 22 minutes.
The successful launch of the satellites will take ISRO's tally of launching foreign satellites to 35. ISRO started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket.
Since then India has been successful in launching medium-weight satellites for overseas agencies. Initially ISRO started carrying third-party satellites atop PSLv rockets as co-passengers of its own remote sensing/earth observation satellites.
In 2007, ISRO for the first time launched an Italian satellite - Agile - as a standalone for a fee.