India launches Italian satellite, joins elite club
Apr 23, 2007 - 7:24:52 PM
Sriharikota -, April 23 - India Monday joined an elite cub of six nations with capabilities to launch commercial satellites when it put an Italian astronomical satellite into orbit from the space centre here.
The white and magenta polar satellite launch vehicle PSLV-C8 lifted off into the clear blue sky from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 3.30 p.m. local time.
Shortly thereafter, it placed the 352-kg AGILE satellite from Italy into orbit to catapult the country into the elite group of six nations.
What was also significant about the launch was that a European nation had picked the Indian Space Research Organisation - for the launch ahead of more experienced players like France and Russia that between them have launched over 800 space missions.
The US, China and Japan are the other nations with similar capabilities.
An upbeat ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair described the launch a 'very dutiful, perfect and accurate.
'This is a historic moment not only for us but also for the European scientific community because the satellite will uncover the secrets of the universe,' he added.
'The launch is also cost-effective and on time. This is also a remarkable entry for us in the commercial field,' Nair said.
The ISRO chief also added that India would launch two more satellites, one within this year.
Giovanni Dignami, president of the Italian space agency ASI, said: 'It is an extremely important achievement for our country's and the entire space community. I am proud to be standing here. This marks a new beginning of a new era of collaboration among Italy, Europe and India.'
AGILE will conduct X-ray and Gamma-ray astronomical tests in an effort to decode the secrets of the universe. This is a first for not only Italy but also for India, which has hitherto only launched weather or remote sensing satellites.
India's prehistoric mathematical astronomers had mapped space as early as 7 B.C. without the aid of telescopes, rockets and space vehicles. While most of these texts are yet to be juxtaposed with the modern space idiom, it would be interesting to see as to how the Italian scientists fare with modern implements.
Besides AGILE, India's advanced avionic module -, the secondary payload weighing a mere 183 kg, was also placed in orbit. AAM consists of next generation mission computers, and navigation and telemetry systems.
For the launch, AGILE was mounted on top of the Dual Launch Adaptor - with the AAM nestling below it.
The launches were achieved with the aid of a single core motor on board the PSLV-C8. For the first time, in its 11th flight, the PSLV's normal system of six strap-on motors was not utilised.
Due to this downsizing of weight, the launch cost was Rs.680 million - - Rs.120 million lower than the normal price.
Another feature of the flight was that the propellant in the fourth stage was reduced by about 400 kg compared to previous PSLV launches and its lift-off mass was thus 230 tonnes.
Since its first successful flight in 1994, the PSLV has launched eight Indian remote sensing satellites, an amateur radio satellite HAMSAT, a recoverable space capsule SRE-1 and six small satellites for foreign customers into 550-800 km high polar sun synchronous orbits -. Besides, it has launched India's exclusive meteorological satellite Kalpana-1 into a geo synchronous transfer orbit -.
The PSLV will also be used to launch India's first mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-1, next year. The rocket's bulbous payload has a diameter of 3.2 metres. It has S-band telemetry and C-band transponder systems for monitoring its health and flight status respectively.
The PSLV was originally designed to place the 1,000-kg class of India's remote sensing satellites into a 900 km polar SSO. Since then, its payload capability has been successively enhanced.
The PSLV-C6 launched on May 2005 carried two payloads - the 1,560-kg CARTOSAT-1 and the 42-kg HAMSAT - into a 620 km SSO. The next flight, PSLV-C7, launched four payloads - the 680-kg CARTOSAT, the 550-kg space capsule recovery experiment -, the 56-kg LAPAN-TUBSAT of Indonesia and the 60-kg PEHUENSAT-1 of Argentina - into a 635-km high polar SSO.
Owned by the Italian Space Agency -, the design, development and fabrication of AGILE was led by Carlogavazzi Space, Milan, Italy, in association with several industries and research institutions.
Germany's Cosmos International arranged for its launch through India's Antrix Corporation.
The Italian space agency was charged at the rate of $29,000 per kg, said Sridharan Murthy, executive director, Antrix Corp.
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