Around 16 minutes after PSLV-C48 lifted off from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, the rocket injected 628kg RISAT-2BR1 into a 576km orbit.
In the next five minutes, the rocket placed nine foreign satellites in their orbits. These satellites are from from Japan, Italy, the US and Israel. With this, the Indian Space Research Organisation has launched a total of 319 foreign satellites from 33 countries since the first launch in 1999 when PSLV-C2 carried satellites from Germany and South Korea.
Isro chairman K Sivan said, “I am extremely happy to declare that PSLV’s 50th flight successfully injected RISAT-2BR1 in a 576km orbit. Along with the 50th flight, this mission has another milestone: It is the 75th launch from Sriharikota.”
He said PSLV was a “wonderful project” led by “exemplary leaders” starting with Dr Srinivasan who had conceptualised and configured the vehicle. In 26 years, PSLV has had five variants. It initially had an 850kg capability which was later enhanced to 1.9 tonne.
“The versatile vehicle has so far carried 52.7tonne payload in which 17% mass were customer satellites,” Sivan added.
Sivan said PSLV had visited almost all orbits in space. “It has visited Leo, polar, GTO (geosynchronous transfer orbit), Moon and Mars. Now we will send a satellite to the Sun,” he added.
Photo: R Ramesh Shankar
Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre director S Somanath said Isro would achieve the next 50 flights in the next 5 years.
RISAT-2BR1 is a radar imaging earth observation satellite carrying an X-band synthetic aperture radar, a desi version of Israel’s TecSAR satellite, with radial rib reflector 3.6 metre mesh antenna. The imaging resolution is at 0.35m, much better than its predecessor RISAT2B which can capture images at a 0.5X0.3m resolution.
Isro says the satellite has various applications, including forestry, agriculture and disaster management support. It is believed that RISAT-2BR1 along with Cartosat-3, a remote sensing satellite which was launched on November 27, 2019, will also be used for military reconnaissance.
PSLV’s first launch – PSLV-D1- was on September 20, 1993 carrying IRS-1E. The mission was a failure. Since the rocket’s first successful launch on October 15, 1994 when PSLV-D2 placed IRS-P2 remote sensing satellite in orbit, the launch vehicle has had a track record of 48 successful missions, including PSLV-C48th successful mission.
With another launch left to close the year, Wednesday’s flight was the sixth launch in 2019, the 37th launch from the first launch pad and the second flight of PSLV with ‘QL’ variant.
In Video:ISRO successfully launches RISAT-2BR1, 9 foreign satellites