Wednesday, Oct 15, 2003
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By T. S. Subramanian
The PSLV-C5 will put into orbit a remote-sensing satellite called Resourcesat weighing 1,360 kg. The four stages of the vehicle have been integrated and the satellite is already mated with it on top of its fourth stage. The PSLV-C5, standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing about 295 tonnes, is expected to race into the sky from the beachfront launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota between 10.22 a.m. and 10.32 a.m. There has been no hold so far. The final countdown will start T minus 48 hours, that is, 48 hours before the launch.
This will be the eighth launch of the PSLV. Of the eight, six flights have been consecutively successful. The PSLV has thus become ISRO's workhorse. Although six PSLV flights have been successful in a row, "every launch has its own thrill", said an ISRO official about the coming launch. The last PSLV flight took place on September 12, 2002 from SHAR and put a 1,060-kg meteorological satellite in the geo-synchronous transfer orbit.
While the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, has fathered the four-stage PSLV-C5, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, built the Resourcesat. In its four stages, the PSLV-C5 uses solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. Six strap-on motors, strung around the first stage, add force to the first stage thrust. The Mission Director for the PSLV-C5 is N. Narayana Moorthi; the Vehicle Director is George Koshy; and the Satellite Director is K.S.V. Seshadri.
The PSLV-C5 will place Resourcesat in a polar sun-synchronous orbit, at a height of 820 km above the earth. It will provide continuity to its predecessors, IRS-1C and ISR-1D. However, Resourcesat is a more sophisticated satellite than IRS-1C and IRS-1D with state-of-the-art cameras and better resolution imageries, ISRO officials said. Resourcesat's cameras will beam down imageries that will provide valuable information on agriculture, land and water sources and how to manage disasters such as floods, cyclones, droughts and landslides. Its imageries will help in predicting the health of the crops (whether they are blighted or normal), in locating areas with groundwater so that wells can be dug there, and in real-time monitoring of major floods and in assessing droughts, which will help in damage assessment and mitigation.
ISRO has a busy schedule ahead. In 2004, the massive Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) will majestically rise from Sriharikota to put in orbit EDUSAT, which will convert homes into "virtual classrooms". In the same year, the PSLV will deploy CARTOSAT-1 for mapping purposes.
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