Thursday, April 24, 2008

ISRO to launch 10 satellites in one go

For the first time in ISRO's four-decade history, it will launch an Indian mini-satellite — IMS-1 — on April 28.

The highly-proven polar satellite launch vehicle will also carry a 690-kg Cartosat-2a remote sensing satellite and eight nano satellites—-a first for simultaneous launch of 10 satellites.

"ISRO has developed and designed the 83-kg mini satellite. The launch is to try new technologies and also miniaturisation," an ISRO official told TOI from Bangalore. "It will have a two-year life span and will operate at an altitude of 635 km. The data will be available to developing countries."

The eight nano satellites are built by universities and research institutions in Canada and Germany. The satellites weigh 3 kg to 16 kg, the total weight being about 50 kg.

The much-awaited lift-off is scheduled for 9.20 am on April 28 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. It will be the 13th flight of the PSLV.

The mini satellite carries two optical payloads consisting of what is known as a multispectral camera and a hyperspectral camera.

The resolution of the multispectral camera is 37 metres and that of the hyperspectral camera is 506 metres. The data from the mini satellite can be picked up by developing nations using "very little equipment", said the ISRO official.

The mini satellite will serve initially as a platform for experimenting new remote sensing technologies. The launch of a mini satellite is significant as miniaturisation is expected to play an important role in future space missions.

The Cartosat-2a, which will be used for mapping, will be placed in orbit first, followed a few seconds later by the mini satellite. Then, the foreign nano satellites will go into orbit one after the other at an interval of a few seconds.

"This exercise will be tricky because the satellites have to be placed in orbit at the right time and at the right angle," said the official.

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