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PSLV-20 successfully puts seven satellites in orbit

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Indo-French satellite 'SARAL' from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on Monday. 

The satellite aimed at oceanographic studies along with six foreign mini and micro satellites onboard ISRO's workhorse rocket PSLV was launched from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 6.01 pm and successfully placed into orbit .It was initially slated for blast-off at 5.56 pm local time. 

President Pranab Mukherjee was also present at the mega launch.He witnessed the first of the 10 space missions planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2013 and also the country's 101th space mission. 

The other dignitaries who witnessed the successful launch were Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L.Narasimhan, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy. 

With a rich orange flame at its tail and a plume of white fume, the rocket ascended towards the evening skies amidst the resounding cheers of ISRO scientists and a media team assembled at the launch centre. 

People perched atop nearby buildings too happily clapped as PSLV-C20 went up towards the heavens. 

Mukherjee congratulated the scientists. "Delighted to witness the remarkable launch of the PSLV. I congratulate ISRO for successfully executing the mission," he said. 

Exuding happiness, ISRO Chairman K.Radhakrishnan said: "It's a successfull launch." 

The 59-hour countdown for the launch commenced at 6.56 AM Saturday. 

This is the 23rd mission of PSLV, which has an impeccable record of 21 consecutive successful flights. This is the ninth time ISRO is using the 'core alone' variant of the rocket. 

The 668.5 kgs and 44.4 metres tall rocket had a lift off mass of 229.7 tonnes. Besides SARAL, it would put into orbit two micro-satellites UniBRITE and BRITE from Austria and AAUSAT3 from Denmark and STRaND from United Kingdom as also one micro-satellite (NEOSSat) and one mini-satellite (SAPPHIRE) from Canada. 

ISRO had initially planned to launch SARAL on December 12 last year but postponed it to carry out additional tests to "address technical issues to ensure reliability". 

The ISRO-built SARAL is a 410-kg satellite with payloads -- Argos and Altika -- from French space agency CNES for study of ocean parameters towards enhancing the understanding of the ocean state conditions which are otherwise not covered by the in-situ measurements. 

In view of the expected presence of the President, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre has been put under a thick net of security, officials said. 

SARAL will provide data products to operational and research user communities, in support of marine meteorology and sea state forecasting; operational oceanography; seasonal forecasting; climate monitoring; ocean, earth system and climate research, the officials said. 

Altimeter (Altika) would help study the sea surface heights while Argos payload is a satellite-based data collection platform. 

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