CHENNAI: ISRO on Saturday morning set a 49-hour countdown clock ticking on the launch of the PSLV-C23, which would place five foreign satellites into orbit. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to witness this launch, the first since he took the country’s highest executive office, from the Command Centre at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. ISRO has had to postpone push the launch down by three minutes, to avoid collision with space debris.
ISRO’s Mission Readiness Review Committee and Launch Authorisation Board met on Friday for the final review of preparations for the mission, and gave the ultimate go-ahead.
The meetings also authorised the postponement of the launch by three minutes, as final calculations revealed the possibility that the trajectory of the launch vehicle could overlap with space debris. The three minute window would put thousands of kilometres between the craft and the debris orbiting the Earth. Accordingly, the 49-hour countdown clock began ticking down at 8:52 am on Saturday, and would hit the take-off mark at 9:52 am on Monday.
PSLV-C23 would be carrying on board five satellites - the French SPOT-7 (714 kg), German AISAT (14 kg), Canadian NLS 7.1 and NLS 7.2 (15 kg each) and the Singaporean VELOX-1 (7 kg), with a total mass of 765 kg.
This would be a purely commercial launch, arranged by Antrix, the business arm of ISRO. The space agency’s business is expected to jump by 15 percent in the current financial year, as its market share for the launch of small satellites continues to grow.
The ISRO top brass has said they are eyeing the much more lucrative launch market for medium and large satellites.