Success comes after last year's GSLV failures
It was “sweet seventeen” for the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Wednesday, with the PSLV-C16 scoring a spectacular success by putting three satellites into orbit with precision.
It was the PSLV's 17th consecutive successful mission out of the 18 launches from Sriharikota. At the end of 18 minutes of “a delightful” flawless flight, the fourth stage of the rocket shot India's Resourcesat-2 into its orbit. About 40 seconds later, the fourth stage bulleted again the Youthsat and the X-sat into their orbits. The accuracy was such that the Resourcesat-2 reached an orbit at an altitude of 822.9 km against the targeted 822 km.
The mission lifted the veil of despondency that had fallen over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) after the failure of the GSLV-D3 with an indigenous cryogenic stage in April last year and of the GSLV-F06 with a Russian cryogenic engine in December. This year, the ISRO was hit by allegations over the S-band spectrum allocation to a private company.
ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan called the mission “a grand success” because the satellites reached their orbits with great precision. It was “a global mission,” he said, because the Resourcesat-2's remote-sensing images would be used by countries across the world.
Director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre of ISRO S. Ramakrishnan described the success as “a sweet seventeen.”
Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram P.S. Veeraraghavan said the mission's success had established the PSLV “as the most reliable and cost-effective rocket in the world.” Everything went right with the mission, and “as far as the orbits were concerned, the satellites hit the bullseye,” he added.
The 54-hour countdown progressed without any hitch. At 10.12 a.m., the PSLV-C16 roared off from the first launch pad, climbing steadily. The rocket rode on towers of flame, tracing a parabolic path across a clear sky. One could see with naked eyes the separation of the first stage. The four stages and the strap-on booster motors ignited on time and fell into the Bay of Bengal. The rocket also performed “a dog-leg manoeuvre,” skirting the Sri Lankan territory.
Mission Director P. Kunhikrishnan praised “the excellent performance” of the rocket's four stages and their sub-systems. It was “a reassurance to the nation' from the ISRO that the faith put in the space agency was justified.