PSLV-C21 to take off from Sriharikota with two foreign satellites
On September 9, 2012 the nation’s space agency ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) will be hitting a century of missions: it has built 62 satellites and flown 37 launchers in the last 49 years.
However, it says Mission #100 will be a routine, no-frills event with just two foreign commercial launches going on board the PSLV-C21. It will not carry an Indian satellite.
The highlight will be that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will witness the milestone event scheduled for 9.50 a.m. at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
Confirming this, an ISRO spokesperson told The Hindu: “There will be no celebrations, but yes, we are expecting the Prime Minister to be there.”
The last occasion
That would be significant, too. For, Atal Behari Vajpayee was the last Prime Minister to witness an ISRO launch, on May 26, 1999, although Dr. Singh has visited the site on another occasion.
(Mr. Vajpayee’s presence at the Oceansat-1 launch was marred by the unfolding news of the Kargil attack. It was something the government was not ready yet to tell the country, and was struggling to keep under wraps. Mr. Vajpayee cut short a 30-minute news conference and left hastily when the first question referred to the Pakistani attack.)
PSLV-C21 will put in orbit a 712-kg French remote sensing satellite, SPOT-6, and a 15-kg Japanese micro satellite.
They will be placed in polar slots (where the satellites move from pole to pole) at a distance of 655 km from Earth’s surface.
SPOT-6 will be released first and then will follow Proiteres, the experimental Japanese spacecraft, the official said.
The workhorse PSLV rocket in its standard format can carry a weight of around 1,600 kg in a polar launch. C21 will fly in the ‘core alone’ or bare format without the six additional or strapped on motors.
This configuration is being flown for the eighth time. The mode is said to be more economical than the standard mode that has four smaller strap-on motors.
First big lift
At over 700 kg, SPOT-6 will be ISRO’s heaviest customer ever since it started doing paid launches in late 1990s. The 27 foreign satellites it has launched so far weighed between 1 kg and 320 kg. Italy’s Agile was the last big commercial launch on the PSLV, and was placed in orbit in April 2007.