It will put the Indo-French satellite SARAL and six other satellites into orbit

President Pranab Mukherjee will be at Sriharikota on February 25 to watch the lift-off of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C20), which will put the Indo-French satellite SARAL and six other satellites into orbit. Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy will also be present.

On Wednesday, the launch rehearsal was held at Sriharikota, paving the way for the 59-hour countdown to begin at 6 a.m. on February 23.

“Everything is going fine,” and the seven satellites were mated with the rocket, said S. Ramakrishnan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram. Instead of the normal 48-hour countdown for the PSLV lift-off, there would be a 59-hour countdown now. “Since the launch will take place in the evening [5.56 p.m.], there will be continuous operations for two nights and we would like to give breaks to our personnel. So there will be a longer countdown,” said Mr. Ramakrishnan.

Assembly checks

Assembly checks were under way, and the Mission Readiness Review (MRR) would take place on February 22. After the MRR team cleared the vehicle for the launch, two of the four stages of the PSLV-C20 would be filled up with liquid propellants, said the VSSC Director. Solid propellants drive the other two stages.

M.Y.S. Prasad, Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, said the launch rehearsal involved mostly testing the vehicle, the wheeling away of the gargantuan Mobile Service Tower (MST) where the PSLV’s four stages were stacked up, folding the launch platform, checking the electronics, check-out of ground systems and so on. The 400-kg SARAL is of common interest to the ISRO and the French Space Agency called CNES: studying the oceans from space. SARAL stands for Satellite with ARgos and ALtika. While the CNES has contributed the ARgos payload for data collection and the ALtikameter for measuring the depth of the sea, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, built the entire satellite. SARAL’s scientific objectives include forecast of the state of the sea; ocean, earth and climate research; study of rise in sea levels; and inland ice sheet monitoring.