ISRO’s rare feat: Eight satellites deployed in two orbits

Another milestone achieved by the silent achiever, ISRO

Another milestone achieved by the silent achiever, ISRO
Another milestone achieved by the silent achiever, ISRO

SATISH DHAVAN SPACE CENTRE, Nellore (AP): Space scientists of India did the country proud on Monday morning by successfully deploying eight satellites in two different orbits, described as an ‘exciting and excellent mission’ by K Sivan , director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]ndia’s most trusted workhorse, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle , which was launched from Satish Dhavan Space Centre, the country’s spaceport, at 9:12 on Monday performed a complicated space manoeuvre by injecting first SCATSAT-1, a 377 Kg earth observation satellite into an orbit 730 km away from the earth and then coming down to another pre-destined orbit, 670 km away from the earth, to deploy seven satellites into their precise positions.

ISRO, the silent achiever, delivers again!

What was unique about this launch was that the PSLV-C35, the launch vehicle, deployed all the satellites on board into their pre-determined orbits similar to an aircraft delivering its passengers in their respective destinations. The launch vehicle, injected the SCATSAT-1, the main passenger, into the orbit which was 730 km away from earth 17 minutes after it had a majestic lift-off from the SDSC. By the time it reached the first port of call (the orbit 730 km away from earth), the three stages of the rocket had been burnt down and the firing of the fourth stage had begun.

Scientists at the Master Control Room at SDSC shut down the fourth stage of the rocket within seconds of it placing the SCATSAT-I into the destined orbit at 730 km from the earth. The fourth stage with the remaining seven satellites on board , obeyed the embedded commands programmed into its brain by the space scientists.

The ‘embedded commands’ brought down the vehicle to the second orbit, 670 km from the earth. Though the burning of the engine was shut down, it stayed afloat in the atmosphere reminiscent of a motor vehicle coming down a gradient in spite of the driver switching off the ignition to save the fuel, according to a space scientist who explained the process in a layman’s language.

[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]t took the fourth stage 2 hours and 15 minutes to enter the second orbit and within minutes, all the seven satellites were lobbed into their predetermined positions one after the other. Once the mission director B Jayakumar made the announcement that all the satellites have been deployed successfully, a beaming A S Kiran Kumar, chairman, ISRO, who was keenly watching the process from the word go, announced to the world that it was a landmark day in the history of the country’s space agency. “It has been a successful mission. We have deployed all the satellites including the six customer satellites into their respective orbits,” said Kumar.

The seven other satellites deployed by the PSLV-C35 mission include three Algerian satellites, one satellite each from the United States of America and Canada. Two academic satellites fabricated by the students of Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay and PES University, Bangalore too were deployed with this mission.

With Monday’s mission, Indian space scientists proved to the world that they are experts in launching multiple satellites into multiple orbits with a single launch vehicle. Jayakumar described PSLV as the most competitive launch vehicle the manoeuvrability of which was in full display during the PSLV-C 35 mission.

The SCATSAT-1, according to Kiran Kumar, is a stopgap arrangement to continue the services rendered by the aging OCEANSAT-2, launched in 2009. It has a life period of five years. The satellite will help the country’s meteorologists to forecast with precision the possibility of cyclones and study other ocean parameters.

ISRO, the silent achiever, delivers again!

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