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PSLV-C6 ready for lift-off

T.S. Subramanian


  • PSLV-C6 lift-off on May 5
  • Lift-off from second launch pad
  • Two satellites to be deployed
  • To be tracked from Mauritius, Russia as well
  • Imageries with 3-D effect

    SRIHARIKOTA: The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C6) is poised for lift-off at 10.19 a.m. on May 5 from the newly-built second launch pad (SLP) in the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It will deploy two satellites called CARTOSAT-1 and HAMSAT. The final countdown starts at 5.49 a.m. on May 3.

    On Sunday, the PSLV, painted in white and red, stood like a giant pencil on the massive launch pedestal, a few hundred metres away from the casurina and neem-tree filled beachfront of the Sriharikota island in the Bay of Bengal. An important highlight of this mission is that the PSLV-C6 is the first rocket to be launched from the state-of-the-art SLP at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota. Many of the important systems of the second launch pad are, therefore, being tested for the first time with this flight.

    Tension and anxiety filled the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) engineers on April 30 as the PSLV-C6 was wheeled very slowly on its mobile launch pedestal with a bogie system to the launch pad and then strapped to the umbilical tower. It was a carefully executed operation. Earlier, the four stages of the vehicle were stacked up inside a huge permanent building called the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), which is the centrepiece of the SLP. "Yesterday, we had anxious and exciting moments" as the bogie transported the PSLV on the launch pedestal on a rail track to the launch pad, said N. Narayanamoorthy, Mission Director, PSLV.

    "This is the first time that the 44-metre tall, free-standing PSLV which has no anchors and weighs 295 tonnes was moved on the mobile launch pedestal on the rail track. (We were worried) about the stability of the vehicle because braking and other forces induced should not topple it. It moved at a snail's pace of seven metres a minute and took three hours to reach the launch pad, which is 960 metres away. But the operation was flawless," Mr. Narayanamoorthy added.

    K. Narayana, Director, SDSC, pointed out how this was radically different from that of the first launch pad where the vehicle is built inside the Mobile Service Tower (MST). It is the 75-metre tall MST, weighing 4,000 tonnes which moves away on a rail track a few hours before the rocket blasts off from the first launch pad. If there were to be heavy rains or a threat of cyclone during the next few days, "we can move the PSLV-C6 back to the VAB. Once the normal conditions return, we will take the vehicle again to the launch pad," Mr. Narayana said.

    A versatile pad

    The second launch pad and its associated facilities have been built at a cost of Rs. 400 crore. It is a versatile pad where different vehicles such as the PSLV, the present generation Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), the GSLV-Mark III and advanced vehicles could be launched.

    Imageries beamed by CARTOSAT-1, weighing 1,560 kg, will be used for cartographic purposes. They will be valuable in planning towns, laying new roads, digging canals, disaster assessment and water resources management. CARTOSAT-1 has two stereoscopic cameras which will take pictures of the same object at different angles. "A unique feature of the satellite," according to D.V.A. Raghava Murthy, is that imageries will have a three-dimensional effect.

    The 43-kg HAMSAT will provide radio communication to national and international community of amateur radio operators (HAMs). When there is a blackout and communication failure during a tsunami or a cyclone, HAMSAT would provide communication, said J.P. Gupta, its Project Director.

    According to K. Thyagarajan, Project Director, Indian Remote-sensing Satellites and Small Satellites, ISRO, CARTOSAT-1 was the 11th remote-sensing satellite to be built in India.

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