PSLV-C14 Successfully Launches Oceansat-2 Satellite

In its sixteenth flight conducted from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota today (September 23, 2009), ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C14 successfully launched the 960 kg Indian remote sensing satellite Oceansat-2 and six nano satellites for international customers into a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). This was the fifteenth successful flight of PSLV.

After a 51 hour count down, PSLV-C14 lifted off from the first launch pad at SDSC SHAR, at 11:51 am IST with the ignition of the core first stage. The important flight events included the separation of the first stage, ignition of the second stage, separation of the payload fairing at about 125 km altitude after the vehicle had cleared the dense atmosphere, second stage separation, third stage ignition, third stage separation, fourth stage ignition and fourth stage cut-off.

The 960-kg main payload, Oceansat-2, was the first satellite to be injected into orbit at 1081 seconds after lift-off at an altitude of 728 km. About 45 seconds later, four of the six nano satellites were separated in sequence. The initial signals indicate normal health of the satellites.

Oceansat-2 is the sixteenth remote sensing satellite of India. The state-of-the-art Oceansat-2 carries three payloads and has the shape of a cuboid with two solar panels projecting from its sides.

The eight band Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) payload carried by Oceansat-2 images a swath (strip of land or ocean) of 1420 km width with a resolution of 360 metre and works in the Visible and Near Infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Ku-band Scatterometer with a 1 metre diameter antenna rotating at 20 rpm, works at a frequency of 13.515 GHz. The Scatterometer covers a swath of 1400 km and operates continuously. ROSA is a GPS Receiver for atmospheric sounding by radio occultation built by Italian Space Agency (ASI).

Soon after separation from PSLV fourth stage, the two solar panels of OCEANSAT-2 were automatically deployed. The satellite's health is continuously monitored from the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network’s (ISTRAC) Spacecraft Control Centre at Bangalore with the help of a network of ground stations at Bangalore, Lucknow, Mauritius, Biak in Indonesia and Svalbard and Tromso in Norway as well as a station in Troll, Antarctica.

PSLV–C14 mission carried six nano satellites – Cubesat 1, 2, 3 and 4 as well as Rubin 9.1 and 9.2 – as auxiliary payloads along with Oceansat –2. The weight of these nano satellites was in 2-8 kg range. Oceansat – 2 and the six auxiliary payloads were placed in a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit inclined at an angle of 98.28 degree to the equator.

The auxiliary payloads of PSLV–C14 are educational satellites from European Universities and are intended to test new technologies. After the separation of Oceansat – 2 from PSLV – C14, the four cubesats were also separated, while Rubin 9.1 and 9.2 remain permanently remain attached to the upper stage of PSLV-C14.

The 44.4 metre (147 ft) tall PSLV – C14 weighed 230 tons at lift-off. PSLV – C14 is the ‘core alone’ version of PSLV which is the same as PSLV ‘standard configuration’ except for the ‘strap–on motors’. Six such ‘strap–ons’ surround the first stage of PSLV ‘standard configuration’, but are absent in ‘core alone’ version. PSLV–C14 was the fifth ‘core alone’ mission of PSLV.

PSLV – C14 had four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately. The first stage, carrying 139 tonne of propellant, is one of the largest solid propellent boosters in the world. The second stage carried 41.5 tonne of liquid propellant. The third stage used 7.6 tonne of solid propellant and the fourth had a twin engine configuration with 2.5 tonne of liquid propellent.

This was the sixteenth mission of ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV and its fifteenth consecutive success. From October 1994 onwards, PSLV has repeatedly proved its reliability, robust design and versatility by launching satellites into polar Sun Synchronous, Geosynchronous Transfer, Low Earth and Highly Elliptical Orbits. Of the 39 satellites launched by PSLV so far, 17 have been Indian and the rest being satellites from abroad. During many of its missions, including today’s PSLV-C14, PSLV has launched multiple satellites into orbit with the maximum number being 10 during PSLV–C9 mission in April 2008.s

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