Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh): India notched another
milestone in its space programme Friday evening when it
successfully launched a heavy-duty rocket that placed a major
communications satellite in space.
A beaming Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief K.
Radhakrishnan told reporters after the 4.48 p.m. launch Friday
that the mission was a success.
"I am extremely happy to state that the PSLV (Polar Satellite
Launch Vehicle)-C17 GSAT-12 mission is successful. The satellite
was launched in the intended orbit."
"Within the next 30 minutes information about the GSAT 12's health
and how it is working will be known," he told cheering scientists
at the launch site here, 80 km north of Tamil Nadu's capital
V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office,
said: "I am extremely happy (at the successful launch). I am
coming here for the second time, and it is a second successful
launch. On behalf of the prime minister, UPA chairperson Sonia
Gandhi, I congratulate the ISRO scientists for the wonderful
The PSLV blasted off successfully at 4.48 p.m., carrying the 1,410
kg GSAT-12 satellite from the spaceport here.
With this, India added 12 more communication transponders to its
The launch took place under a cloudy sky, with the Rs.90 crore
rocket PSLV-C17 - measuring 44 metres in height and weighing 320
tonnes - soaring off into space with a roar.
It ferried the Rs.80 crore GSAT-12 having 12 extended C-band
transponders - automatic receivers and transmitters for
communication and broadcast of signals.
With a rich orange flame at its rear, the one-way ticket rocket
left behind a huge tail of white plume as it rose into the sky to
the cheers of ISRO scientists and media team assembled at the
People perched atop of the nearby buildings too happily applauded
as PSLV-C17 went up.
Around 20 minutes after the blast off, the rocket achieved its
mission by placing the latest Indian communication satellite in
the intended sub geosynchronous transfer orbit (sub GTO).
The GTO is an intermediate orbit from where normally communication
satellites will be moved to its final geosynchronous orbit by
firing the on-board motors.
The GSAT-12 carries around 851 kg of fuel on-board to fire the
motors. (A geosynchronous orbit is one directly above the earths'
equator. For an observer from the earth a satellite in
geosynchronous orbit will seem motionless, stationary at one point
in the sky).
The rocket placed the satellite in sub GTO with a 284 km perigee
(nearest point to earth) and 21,000 km apogee (farthest point from
the earth). The satellite will be raised to 36,000 km apogee from
Immediately after satellite ejection, ISRO with its network of
ground stations monitored its health.
The satellite with a life span of about eight years will augment
transponder capacity of Indian National Satellite (Insat) system
which at present comprises of eight satellites - Insat-2E,
Insat-3A, Insat-3C, Insat-3E, Insat-4A, Insat-4B (working at 50
percent capacity) Insat-4CR and GSAT-8 providing 175 transponders
in the S, C, extend C and Ku bands.
The Indian space agency has leased 86 more transponders from
various foreign satellites. It is estimated there is an unmet
demand for 170 transponders.
The GSAT-12 satellite is expected to serve the Very Small Aperture
Terminal (V-SAT) sector. VSATs are used to transmit data like
point of sale transactions or to provide satellite internet
It will also be useful for various communication services like
tele-education, tele-medicine and for village resource centres.
ISRO used its third PSLV rocket variant - PSLV-XL - with longer
strap-on motors with higher fuel capacity - to put the latest
communication satellite in the space.
The other two rocket variants are the PSLV standard with 11.3
metres six strap-on motors and the PSLV Core Alone (CA) rocket
without the six strap-on motors.
The PSLV-C17 that went up Friday had 13.5 metres long strap-on
motors carrying 12 tonnes of solid fuel than the normal strap-on
motors measuring 11.3 metres with nine-tonne fuel capacity.
This is the second time ISRO has launched a rocket with this
specification. The earlier one was for the Chandrayaan moon
This is also only the second time ISRO is using a PSLV rocket for
launching a satellite to be finally placed in geostationary orbit.
The first satellite was Kalpana-1 (originally named as Metsat), a
meteorological satellite launched in 2002.
The PSLV has an excellent success record since 1994, launching
many Indian and foreign satellites.
ISRO officials told IANS that a remote sensing satellite -
Megha-Tropiques - is being planned for launch later this year.