Three days after it celebrated its 16th birthday, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle named PSLV-C14 roared its way to success from the spaceport at Sriharikota on Wednesday, putting in orbit India’s Oceansat-2 and six nano satellites from abroad. This was the 15th successful flight of the PSLV in a row. The first PSLV flight took place on September 20, 1993.
It was a spectacular mission on Wednesday when everything went all right for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The countdown was smooth, there was a perfect lift-off at the appointed time of 11.51 a.m., the first stage of the PSLV kicking into life with the brute force of its motor, the vehicle galvanising itself as it climbed into the sky, its four stages igniting and separating on time and the satellites being precisely injected into their orbits.
At the end of 18 minutes of flight, the PSLV’s fourth stage injected Oceansat-2 into orbit at a velocity of 25,000 km an hour at an altitude of about 728 km. Thereafter, spring-loaded action mechanisms catapulted four nano satellites called Cubesat 1, 2, 3 and 4 into orbit one after another. Two more nano satellites named Rubinsat 9.1 and 9.2 remained permanently attached to the PSLV’s fourth stage.
“The PSLV is like a wine. With age, it only improves,” said G. Madhavan Nair, ISRO Chairman. He called the mission “a fantastic achievement” and “a thrilling moment for the ISRO team.”
During the countdown, there was a leak in the vehicle’s reaction control package. A team led by M.Y.S. Prasad, Range Operations Director, saw the anomaly being rectified without losing a single minute in the countdown, said ISRO Chairman.
T.K. Alex, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, where the Oceansat-2 was built, said the satellite’s solar panels had already deployed. A ground station at Antarctica had tracked it. The spacecraft was pointing towards the earth in the right direction. The satellites were in normal health.
It was on September 20, 1993 that the first PSLV flight took place. “Unfortunately, we failed [on that day]. Since then, we have not looked back. The next 15 launches have been successful…which gives us the greatest joy,” Mr. Madhavan Nair said.
While two of the three payloads of the Oceansat-2 were designed and developed by Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, a third payload came from Italy.
R.R. Navalgund, Director, SAC, said the Oceansat-2 t would provide data about plant life in the oceans. It would help in locating schools of fish and monitoring algal blooms which were harmful to fish life. It would also help in forecasting weather and provide information on how cyclones generated, R.R. Navalgund said.