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PSLV makes commercial launch

T.S. Subramanian

Places Italian satellite Agile in a precise orbit of about 550 km above the earth


  • I hope we will get more offers: ISRO Chairman
  • We are thrilled, says Italian Space Agency President

    — Photos: S. Thanthoni, V. Ganesan

    PROUD MOMENT: ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair, Italian Space Agency President Giovanni Bignami (right) and Project Director of PSLV N. Narayanamoorthy at a press meet after the launch of PSLV-C8, at Sriharikota on Monday. (Right): The launch vehicle soars into the sky.

    SRIHARIKOTA : The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Monday successfully made the first commercial launch of a foreign satellite through the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C8). Italian satellite, Agile, weighing 352 kg, was placed in a precise orbit about 550 km above the earth.

    The PSLV also carried an ISRO payload, Advanced Avionics Module (AAM), to establish the next generation computers, navigation, guidance, control and telemetry systems that will be used in future launch vehicles. It weighed 185 kg.

    ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair called the mission "a 100 per cent success" and "a remarkable achievement."

    He said: "We have made a good entry into the launch business. I hope we will get more and more business opportunities in future. The contract [to launch the Italian satellite] came at a time when there was a complex, competitive environment."

    Italian Space Agency President Giovanni Bignami felt "thrilled" by the successful mission, which would mark "the beginning of a new stage of cooperation" between India and Italy in space endeavours. It has placed India "on a totally different footing"" in the launch market, he said.

    The PSLV's final countdown that lasted 48 hours and a half progressed without any hitch at the Mission Control Centre of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

    At 3.30 p.m, the 44-metre tall, four-stage vehicle took off from the second launch pad.

    Without the firepower of the strap-on booster motors, the vehicle's ascent was a little slow in the beginning. But it soon gathered speed and the ascent was flawless.

    In the backdrop of a clear sky, it soared, emitting flames and thick white smoke. Soon the first stage jettisoned.

    All events, from ignition and jettisoning, occurred at the appointed time.

    After the third stage separated at 518 seconds, the fourth stage coasted on its velocity for about eight minutes.

    Then it came into life and 22 minutes after lift-off, it injected Agile into orbit at a velocity of about 25,000 km an hour. Applause filled the air.

    B.N. Suresh, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, said it "altogether was a new mission for us." The VSSC built the vehicle. The core-alone configuration "further proved the versatility of the PSLV" to launch several satellites from one vehicle, he said.

    Related Stories:
    PSLV's success and beyond

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