India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle proved its versatility and reliability once again when the PSLV-C17 put the communication satellite GSAT-12 in a perfect orbit on Friday. The rocket roared off the second launch pad from the spaceport here on the dot at 4.48 p.m. and effortlessly lobbed the 1,310-kg satellite in orbit after a 20-minute eventless flight.
This is the 18th successful flight of the PSLV in a row and this is the third time that it is putting a satellite in a geo-synchronous transfer orbit (GTO), which is a tricky business. And the PSLV proved its versatility because it is the more powerful XL version of the PSLV that put the GSAT-12 in orbit. There are three versions of the PSLV — the standard, the core-alone without the six strap-on booster motors, and the XL version, which carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version. All the three versions have proved to be unalloyed successes. An XL version had successfully put Chandrayaan-1 in a GTO in October 2008.
There were thick clouds as the PSLV-C17 lifted off majestically and disappeared into the clouds after a few seconds. It was a flawless mission with the four stages of the PSLV-C17 igniting and separating on time and the fourth stage putting the satellite accurately in orbit.
K. Radhakrishnan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), called it an “important mission, both from the technological angle and for the people of the country.” The mission was so perfect that the rocket put the satellite in a sub-GTO with an apogee of 21,020 km against the planned 21,000 km and a perigee of 284 km against a targeted 281 km. The GSAT-12 with its 12 extended C-band transponders would be used in tele-medicine, tele-education, village resource centres and supporting disaster management. Though putting the GSAT-12 in a sub-GTO was “a tricky mission,” Dr. Radhakrishnan said, the ISRO was successful in doing it with the experience gained from the Chandrayaan-1 mission.
P.S. Veeraraghavan, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, called the PSLV “a proud symbol of ISRO's self-reliance.”
T.K. Alex, Director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, said the GSAT-12's solar panels were deployed, they started rotating and commands were given to turn the panels towards the Sun to generate power.