Thursday, April 24, 2008

India to blast satellite into space

An Indian rocket will next week launch an advanced remote-sensing satellite that will help plan and implement urban and rural development projects, the space agency said Thursday.

Cartosat-2A, an all-weather, reconnaissance satellite, will be lifted into space on Monday morning from the Sriharikota space centre in southern India, the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

"The launch campaign is progressing satisfactorily," the Bangalore-based agency said in a statement. "The satellite has already been integrated with the launch vehicle."

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or PSLV, the workhorse of the Indian space programme, will carry the 690-kilogramme (1,518-pound) payload equipped with a high-resolution camera and advanced scientific instruments.

The PSLV's 13th flight will also carry an Indian mini-satellite weighing 83 kilogrammes and eight so-called nanosatellites developed by German and Canadian research institutions that weigh between three and 16 kilograms, the space agency said.

Identical to the mapping satellite Cartosat-2, which was launched in January 2007, Cartosat-2A will be placed in a polar orbit at an altitude of 630 kilometres (391 miles).

The satellite will be a boost to India's efforts to reinforce its urban and rural infrastructure to keep pace with an economy that has grown at an average annual pace of nearly nine percent in the past four years.

The satellite can also be used for intelligence gathering, officials have said previously.

India started its space programme in 1963, and has since developed and put several of its own satellites into space. It has also designed and built launch rockets to reduce dependence on overseas space agencies.

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