India orbits three satellites during first space launch after failure – Spaceflight Now

The Indian polar satellite launch vehicle takes off with the EOS 4 radar satellite. Credit: ISRO

An Indian radar satellite and two payloads launched a polar satellite launch vehicle into orbit on Sunday, bringing India’s space program back into flight after another type of rocket failed last August.

The mission launched from the Satisha Dhawan Space Center, located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Chennai on the east coast of India, at 19:29 EST on Sunday (00:29 GMT Monday). The launch took place at 05:59 local time in India.

The Indian PSLV flew in its most powerful configuration, called the PSLV XL, with six solid-propellant rocket accelerators. Accelerators and the main stage of the engine, also burning pre-packaged solid fuel, sent a rocket down over the Bay of Bengal.

Four boosters were launched to help the main stage in the first leg of the mission. Twenty-five seconds later, two more air-boosted accelerators caught fire to give the rocket 2 million pounds of thrust at maximum power.

Six boosters burned and were thrown out in the first minute and a half of the mission, then the main stage spent a rush and separated at T + plus 1 minute 49 seconds. A split second the Vikas liquid-fueled second engine started to continue the ascent into space.

The rocket dropped the nose cone, then burned the third stage of PSLV on solid fuel and the third stage on liquid fuel, directing three payloads of the mission into orbit, directing the rocket to the southeast, then south to avoid flying over Sri Lanka.

PSLV deployed the EOS 4 spacecraft almost 18 minutes after takeoff. About a minute later the rocket released its two payloads. On-board cameras showed that the satellites were flying without a rocket, and representatives of the Indian Space Research Organization confirmed that the PSLV had reached orbit.

The mission was aimed at a polar orbit 328 miles (529 kilometers) above Earth. ISRO representatives also confirmed that the EOS 4 main satellite has deployed its solar panels to start generating its own electricity.

The next EOS 4 spacecraft weighing 3770 pounds (1710 kilograms), formerly known as RISAT 1A, was expected to deploy its C-band radar antenna. The spacecraft will collect radar images of the Earth, collect data useful in agriculture, detect soil moisture, disaster response, disaster assessment, carbon inventory, and manage forestry and plantations.

Radar remote sensing satellites can see the Earth’s surface day and night and are not obscured by clouds like optical imaging missions. EOS 4 begins a 10-year mission.

“This spacecraft will be one of the largest assets for us to serve the country,” Samanath, ISRO chairman, said in a note from the Satisha Dhawan Space Center after the launch.

The INS 2TD satellite, launched on Sunday as a secondary payload, carries a thermal imaging camera to observe the Earth, serving as a technology demonstrator for a future satellite that India is developing in collaboration with Bhutan.

INSPIRESat 1 is a joint project of the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics of the University of Colorado and the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology with additional contributions from institutions in Singapore and Taiwan.

Here is a scientific tool for studying the dynamics of the Earth’s ionosphere, the upper atmosphere, which combines the effects of terrestrial and space weather, affecting the operation of the satellite and radio communications.

Another instrument on INSPIRESat 1 is a NASA-funded X-ray spectrometer to monitor solar flares. The INSPIRESat 1 spacecraft was assembled and tested in Colorado and shipped to India to prepare for launch.

The Indian radar satellite EOS 4 is prepared for encapsulation inside the casing of the payload of its Polar Satellite Launch. Credit: ISRO

Sunday’s launch was the first PSLV flight since last February, the slowdown in India’s launch cadence is partly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Sunday’s mission, India has launched 54 PSLV missions since 1993, making six flights in one year after finding a niche in the international launch market to deliver small and medium-sized satellites into orbit.

But now India has launched just four PSLV flights in the last two years. The pandemic has forced India’s space agency to suspend preparations for launch, and many of the types of satellites that were once launched by PSLV have switched to other rockets, most notably SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and new launchers from companies like Rocket Lab.

The Indian PSLV is capable of delivering more than 3,850 pounds (1,750 kilograms) of payload to a polar orbit 386 miles (622 kilometers) high, making its lifting capacity higher than most commercial small launchers but much lower than that of SpaceX. Falcon 9.

Sunday’s launch was also India’s first orbital mission since the country’s more powerful GSLV Mk.2 rocket failed in August. A third-degree technical problem prevented it from entering orbit with an Indian satellite to observe the Earth.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StephenClark1. India orbits three satellites during first space launch after failure – Spaceflight Now

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