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PSLV launch successful, 5 satellites placed in orbit

In a textbook launch, India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Monday successfully placed into orbit, the remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2B and four other satellites, after a perfect lift off from the space-port in Sriharikota.

At the end of an over 51-hour countdown, the 44.4 metre-tall four-stage PSLV-C-15, costing Rs 260 crore, blasted off from a launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre with ignition of the core first stage and placed the satellites in orbit one after the other.

Visibly relieved scientists, headed by ISRO chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan, cheered as ISRO's workhorse PSLV soared into clear skies at 9.22am from the spaceport in the East Coast in Andhra Pradesh, about 100 km north of Chennai.

The PSLV launch assumes significance as it comes about three months after ISRO suffered a major setback on April 15 when the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D3), which was launched using an Indian-designed and built cryogenic engine for the first time, failed and fell into the Bay of Bengal.

Cartosat-2B is an advanced remote sensing satellite built by ISRO. This is the latest in the Indian remote sensing satellite series and the 17th in this series.

Cartosat-2B is mainly intended to augment remote sensing data services to the users of multiple spot scene imagery with 0.8 metre spatial resolution and 9.6 km swath in the panchromatic. Cartosat-2 and 2A, two Indian remote sensing satellites in orbit, are currently providing such services.

A set of four satellites including Studsat built by students of seven engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, Alsat from Algeria, two nano satellites from Canada and Switzerland, and a pico (very small) satellite called Oceansat 2 accompanied Cartosat 2 on its trip to orbit.

Planning Commission Vice-Chairman Montek Singh Ahuluwalia, and former ISRO chief Dr K Kasturirangan witnessed the launch.

"It has been a wonderful experience. The ISRO has made the country proud," Ahluwalia said, congratulating the scientists after the perfect take off.

The Cartosat-2B carries a panchromatic camera similar to that of its predecessors - Cartosat-2 and 2A and was capable of imaging a swath (geographical strip of land) of 9.6 km with a resolution of 0.8 metre.

The multiple spot scene imagery sent by Cartosat-2B camera would also be useful for village/cadastral level resource assessment and mapping, detailed urban and infrastructure planning and development, transportation system planning, preparation of large-scale cartographic maps, preparation of micro watershed development plans and monitoring of development works of village.

Alsat from Algeria, weighing 116 kg, is also a remote sensing satellite. The two nano satellites, NLS 6.1 and NLS 6.2, weigh six kg and one kg each. Studsat weighs less than one kg.

Besides launching 17 Indian satellites, PSLV has also launched 22 foreign satellites during 1994-2009 into polar sun synchronous, geosynchronous transfer, highly elliptical and low earth orbits and has repeatedly proved its reliability and versatility.

One important modification compared to the previous flights of PSLV is the use of dual launch adopter to carry two large satellites, ISRO sources said. Soon after injection into the orbit and separation from the PSLV C-15 fourth stage, the two solar panels of Cartosat 2B will be automatically deployed, they said.

Attributing the success of PSLV C-15 to the entire team behind the mission, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said, "We had an excellent flight. It injected precisely the five satellites. The entire ISRO team is behind the success".

In an apparent reference to the failure of GSLV D3 cryogenic stage, the space agency's first mission after he took over as its chief, he said his team of scientists were inspired to work "especially after the last few weeks after a serious problem that we faced." "And I also want to say we have understood the problem with regard to the indigenous cryogenic engine and stage. We will confirm it in a few weeks with a few tests and then we will come back", he said.

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