India’s PSLV—C16 rocket April 2o, successfully launched into orbit the latest remote sensing satellite Resourcesat—2 that would study and help manage natural resources along with two nano satellites.
ISRO’s homegrown workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle placed in a ‘Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit’ Resourcesat-2, Youthsat and X-Sat about 18 minutes after it blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre launch pad at 10.12 am.
“PSLV-C16 Resourcesat-2 mission is successful,” a jubilant Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman K Radhakrishnan announced shortly after all the three satellites were hurled into space one after another 822 km above earth in a text book launch.
The ISRO chief’s announcement was cheered by the battery of scientists at the mission control centre who heaved a sigh of relief as they were gripped by an added anxiety following two successive failures of GSLV missions last year.
The 1,206 kg Resourcesat-2 with a space life of five years replaces Resourcesat-1 launched in 2003 and would provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage on natural resources.
The GSLV mission in December last year failed when the homegrown GSLV F06 carrying communication satellite GSAT-5P exploded mid-air less than a minute after lift-off and fell into the Bay of Bengal.
GSAT-5P, carrying 24 C-band and 12 extended C-band transponders, plunged into the sea when the destruct command was issued as the rocket veered from its flight path.
Earlier, the GSLV-D3 mission carrying GSAT-4 had also failed in April 2010, dealing a blow to India’s space programme.
PSLV—C16 flight was its 17th successive mission after the failure of its maiden voyage in September 1993.
PSLV-C16, is the eighteenth flight of ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV. In this flight, the standard version of PSLV with six solid strap-on motors is used.
PSLV-C16 will place three satellites with a total payload mass of 1404 kg - RESOURCESAT-2 weighing 1206 kg, the Indo-Russian YOUTHSAT weighing 92 kg and Singapore's X-SAT weighing 106 kg – into an 822 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C16 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.
The major changes made in PSLV since its first launch include changes in strap-on motors ignition sequence, increase in the propellant loading of the first stage and strap-on solid propellant motors as well as the second and fourth stage liquid propellant motors, improvement in the performance of the third stage motor by optimising motor case and enhanced propellant loading and employing a carbon composite payload adapter.
PSLV has also become a more versatile vehicle for launching multiple satellites in polar SSOs as well as Low Earth Orbits (LEO) and Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). With sixteen successful launches, PSLV has emerged as the workhorse launch vehicle of ISRO and is offered for launching satellites for international customers also. During 1994-2010 period, PSLV has launched a total of 44 satellites, of which 25 satellites are from abroad and 19 are Indian satellites.
RESOURCESAT-2 is a follow on mission to RESOURCESAT-1 and the eighteenth Remote Sensing satellite built by ISRO. RESOURCESAT-2 is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by RESOURCESAT-1, and to provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage as well.
Important changes in RESOURCESAT-2 compared to RESOURCESAT-1 are: Enhancement of LISS-4 multispectral swath from 23 km to 70 km and improved Radiometric accuracy from 7 bits to 10 bits for LISS-3 and LISS-4 and 10 bits to 12 bits for AWIFS. Besides, suitable changes, including miniaturisation in payload electronics, have been made in RESOURCESAT-2.
RESOURCESAT-2 also carries an additional payload known as AIS (Automatic Identification System) from COMDEV, Canada as an experimental payload for ship surveillance in VHF band to derive position, speed and other information about ships.
RESOURCESAT-2 carries two Solid State Recorders with a capacity of 200 Giga Bytes each to store the images taken by its cameras which can be read out later to ground stations.
YOUTHSAT is a joint Indo-Russian stellar and atmospheric satellite mission with the participation of students from Universities at graduate, post graduate and research scholar level. With a lift-off mass of 92 kg, Youthsat is a mini satellite and the second in the Indian Mini Satellite (IMS) series. Youthsat mission intends to investigate the relationship between solar variability and thermosphere-Ionosphere changes. The satellite carries three payloads, of which two are Indian and one Russian. Together, they form a unique and comprehensive package of experiments for the investigation of the composition, energetics and dynamics of earth's upper atmosphere.
The Indian payloads are:
SOLRAD - For monitoring the solar X- and gamma ray fluxes and to study solar cosmic ray flux parameters and conditions of their penetration in the Earth's magnetosphere.
X-SAT, the third payload of PSLV-C16, is Singapore's first satellite. Weighing 106 kg at lift-off, X-SAT is a Mini Satellite with a multispectral camera IRIS as its primary payload. X-SAT mission mainly intends to demonstrate technologies related to satellite based remote sensing and onboard image processing.