The Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday launched the maximum number of satellites in one launch so far and scored another first by placing them in three different orbits.
The ISRO’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle ( PSLV) rocket, after a perfect lift off from the second launch pad in Sriharikota at 9.40 p.m., placed a defence satellite plus 28 others from many countries in a single mission.
It first placed its defence satellite, EMISAT into a 749 km sun-synchronous polar orbit. Thereafter, the fourth stage engine was fired and it injected 28 foreign satellites weighing in all 220 kg, into a 504 km orbit .
Subsequently, the fourth stage engine, in which solar panel was used for the first time, was restarted again to achieve a 485 km orbit, to serve as an orbital platform to carry out space borne experimentation using three scientific instruments that would collect data for the next six months. The entire mission lasted around 150 minutes, ISRO said in a press release.
Addressing scientists after the successful launch, ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan said fourth stage of the rocket was marching towards the 485 km altitude and would turn into an orbital platform for three payloads to carry out experiments.
Dr Sivan said the:“The mission is special for ISRO on many counts as it was for the first time a PSLV rocket was launched with four strap-on motors. It was for the first time the mission has three different orbits; it was the first time the fourth stage is made an orbital platform for experiments and there is a new team for PSLV''.
In this mission, the PS4 carried three payloads, Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO, Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), India and Advanced Retarding Potential Analyzer for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and technology (IIST).
ISRO said AIS is for Maritime satellite applications capturing messages transmitted from ships. The APRS assists amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data. The ARIS will study the structural and composition of ionosphere.