SRIHARIKOTA: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Radhakrishnan was a picture of serenity on Thursday morning. He displayed great patience with curious media representatives, more than the usual amount anyway, and willingly went over his answers. And he had good reason to. With the clockwork success of PSLV-C19, it was another feather in ISRO’s cap. The launch was the 20th consecutive of ISRO’s workhorse PSLV platform. PSLV-C19, which lifted off from Sriharikota at 5:47 am on Thursday, also stood for the flexibility that the successful launch system has given to the space agency over the years.
There were other significant takeaways from the launch of PSLV-C19/RISAT-1 as well. The much delayed RISAT-1 is India’s first radar satellite with an indigenously built Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). India’s first radar imaging satellite with an SAR was the RISAT-2, but that had been fitted with an Israeli-built SAR, in the hurry to boost reconnaissance following the terrorist attacks on Mumbai.
RISAT-1, at 1,858 kg, was also the heaviest payload placed in orbit by the PSLV platform. This was achieved with the PSLV-XL, the most powerful variant of the PSLV platform.
The command centre at Sriharikota has come to present a picture of calm and confident control during the launch of PSLV rockets. This has so far been a luxury not afforded to ISRO by its flailing GSLV platform.
Senior officials of the mission sat monitoring the progress of the spacecraft, as it climbed in sync with its preset path. Applause erupted from the scientists at the monitors and the viewing gallery 17 minutes and 50 seconds after PSLV-C19 lifted off, when RISAT-1 was injected into orbit with precision. Radhakrishnan jumped out of his seat to congratulate his team. “The mission is a grand success. It was very precise,” he declared.