ISRO set for another record launch of satellites this month

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Indian Space Research Organisation
New Delhi, Feb 15: After nearly five years the Indian space agency is set for multiple satellites launch at one go on Feb 25. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C20 (PSLV-C20) will put into orbit seven foreign satellites including an Indo-French collaborative satellite SARAL. In April 2008 the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) had launched 10 satellites with PSLV-C9.

The rocket will blast off from the Sriharikota rocket launch centre (around 80 km from Chennai) carrying seven satellites with a total weight of about 700 kg. The final assembly of satellites began yesterday and expected to be completed by tonight. The process involves mating the satellites with the rocket, a full system check and fixing the heat shield to protect the satellites. The rocket is expected to inject the satellites in sun synchronous orbit (SSO) at around 785 km.

The Indo-French SARAL has two French payloads - ARGOS (satellite based data collection platform) and ALTIKA (an altimeter to study sea surface heights) while India has provided the satellite frame and build it. The data generated by SARAL will be shared by France and India.

The other five satellites being launched on Feb 25 would be of commercial contract and this will earn huge revenue to the ISRO.

The PSLV-C20 will be carrying two Canadian satellite NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Space Surveillance Satellite), the world's first space telescope designed by Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and Sapphire satellite built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA). The other satellites set for launch on Feb 25 are BRITE and UniBRITE (both Austria), STRAND (Britain) and AAUSAT (Denmark).

Canadian NEOSSat will detect and track asteroids and satellites circling the globe every 100 minutes and scanning space near the Sun to pin point otherwise almost invisible asteroids. It another important task is to track space objects including space debris. And the Sapphire will look for resident space objects that includes functioning satellites and space debris circling between 6,000 km and 40,000 km above the earth.

In 2008, the PSLV-C9 had a world record by successfully placing ten satellites into orbit in a single mission. The ten pack launch of the saw the 230-tonne Polar Satellite launch Vehicle (PSLV-C9) carry the heaviest luggage--824 kgs--and put into orbit an Indian Mini Satellite and eight foreign nano satellites besides the Cartosat-2A remote sensing satellite.

It was also PSLV's twelfth successful flight and the ISRO has completed 100 missions since Aryabhatta launch in 1975. It was for the first time in the world that ten satellites were launched in a single mission. Russia had earlier launched eight satellites together.

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