India’s ISRO successfully launches its first dedicated space observatory ASTROSAT from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh

It’s a proud moment for India and particularly for ISRO as ASTROSAT, the country’s first astronomy observatory to study distant celestial objects and India’s Polar Satellite Launch vehicle, launched successfully from First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. PSLV-C30 is the 10th flight of PSLV in its “XL” Configuration. The total payload weight of PSLV-C30 is 1631 kg.    

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Image source: Twitter/Astrosat  

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Monday launched its first dedicated multi wavelength space observatory into space, besides six satellites for Canada, Indonesia and the United States.  

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Illustration courtesy ISRO  

Though the national space agency has launched satellites for Indonesia and Canada earlier, this is the first time ISRO is launching satellites for the United States.  

Though there have been scientific missions in the past by ISRO – Aryabhata, SROSS, Youthsat, IRS-P3, GSAT-2, Chandrayaan-1 and Mars Orbiter Mission, this is the first time ISRO is launching a space observatory into space. Though ASTROSAT may be similar to the NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, the former is about 10 times smaller and cannot be compared to the Hubble, which is versatile.  

Video source: YouTube  

Besides NASA, space agencies of the European Union, Japan and Russia have launched similar facilities into space.   Within 22 minutes after it lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here at 10 am, ISRO’s PSLV C-30 rocket was successfully placed in orbit – the country’s AstroSat. Within a few minutes later, Canada’s NLS-14 nanosatellite, Indonesia’s LAPAN-A2 microsatellite, and four identical LEMUR nanosatellites for the United States were also put in orbit.  

Commenting on the launch, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman AS Kiran Kumar had recently said, “What it means for India is this: it is one of the first scientific missions which will be available to the Indian researcher community as an observation opportunity. This is a starting point for such things.”  

While ASTROSAT with a five-year life span weighed 1,513 kg, the six foreign satellites (four from the US and one each from Indonesia and Canada) together weighed 118 kg. According to an official of Antrix Corporation – the commercial arm of India Space Research Organisation (ISRO) – a deal has been signed to put into orbit nine American nano/microsatellites by the end of 2016.  

At the mission control room, space scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.   A team headed by Prof. U.R. Rao finalized the five payloads, which were taken on board the ASTROSAT – Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope, Large Area X-ray Proportional Counter, Soft X-ray Telescope, and Cadmium Zinc Telluride Imager.  

While Canada’s NLS-14 is a maritime monitoring nanosatellite using the Automatic Identification System, Indonesia’s LAPAN-A2 is aimed at benefitting Indonesian radio amateur communities for disaster mitigation and carrying out Earth surveillance. All the four identical LEMUR satellites for the United States – non-visual remote sensing satellites aims to focus on global maritime intelligence through vessel tracking. The life span of Astrosat is estimated to be around five years.   

“The satellite is doing fine after separation and the satellite center has confirmed that intended auto operation that has to happen after separation like solar panel deployment and others went well. In coming days payloads will start commissioning one by one, starting from the eighth day,” said K Suryanarayana Sharma, project director, Astrosat.


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