SRIHARIKOTA: Allaying apprehensions that space debris created by the anti-satellite (ASAT) missile a week ago as part of Mission Shakti would hamper its launches, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched DRDO's electronic intelligence gathering EMISAT into intended orbit and PSLV-C45 rocket is on course to release 28 international customer satellites in two other orbits and for carrying out orbital experiments.
PSLV-C45, which was donning multiple roles and rated as one of the important missions of the year, has lifted-off from the second launchpad from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-SHAR), Sriharikota at 9.27 am without a glitch. The rocket roared into clear skies even as thousand odd general public seated in newly built viewers gallery at Kotha Chennu located off Sriharikota island watched in awe. The whole flight sequence is expected to take about three hours.
After injecting the 436 kg primary satellite EMISAT at around 17 minutes from lift-off in a 749 km orbit, the fourth stage (PS4) engine will be restarted and cut-off at two intervals, first around 60 minutes and then around 108 minutes into the flight to lower the orbit to 504 kms to release all the 28 international customer satellites, totally weighing about 220 kg. Among these, 24 are from USA, which include 20 "Flock" Earth Observation satellites and four Lemur satellites with Vessel Automatic Identification System. The other four satellites are from Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.
Again, the PS4 will be reignited and further lowered to 485 kms orbit to serve as an orbital platform for carrying out space borne experimentation for the first time in ISRO's history. Officials said this is the first time it has provided a micro-gravity environment for research organisations and academic institutes to perform experiments.
The PS4 hosts three payloads in this mission. Automatic Packet Repeating System from AMSAT (Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation), Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO and Advanced Retarding Potential Analyzer for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST).
ISRO officials said APRS is a digital repeater for amateur radio applications. It will assist amateur radio operators in tracking and monitoring position data, while AIS is meant for automatic identification of ships. It will function by capturing messages transmitted from ships and relaying them to ground stations. ARIS is a plasma and electrostatic instrument, which is meant for structural and compositional studies of ionosphere.
In another first, the QL variant of PSLV with four strap-on motors was flown in this flight. In all its earlier flights, PSLV had flown with two, six or without any strap-on motors. Also, for the first time, PSLV fourth stage was equipped with solar panel for generating electrical power in orbit