India Friday moved a step closer to setting up its own satellite navigation system when in a copy-book style it successfully placed into orbit a satellite using its own rocket.
With the successful launch of the second of the planned seven satellites under the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), India moved nearer to a select group of nations that have such a space-based system.
President Pranab Mukherjee said the launch was "an important landmark in our space programme and demonstrates, yet again, India's capabilities in space launch technology".
"The nation will immensely benefit from the applications of IRNSS which include terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management," he said.
The Indian rocket carrying the satellite blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, around 80 km north of Chennai.
Exactly at 5.14 PM, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C24 (PSLV-C24) - standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing about 320 tonnes - blasted off from the first launch pad here at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC).
The expendable rocket riding atop fierce orange flames tore into the evening sky with its luggage, the 1,432 kg IRNSS-1B (Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System-1B) satellite, in a perfect launch.
For the onlookers, the rocket looked like an inverted flare/torch with a long handle as it ascended towards the heavens. ISRO scientists and the media team assembled at the rocket port here proudly applauded the spectacle.
Space scientists at ISRO new rocket mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escape the earth's gravitational pull.
About 20 minutes into the flight, the PSLV-C24 spat out IRNSS-1B at an altitude of around 500 km above the earth.
Immediately on the successful ejection, scientists at the mission control centre were visibly relieved and started applauding happily.
"PSLV has a place of pride"
"The PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) in its 25th successive successful flight precisely injected India's second regional navigaton satellite...This proves again that India's PSLV has a place of pride," ISRO chairman K.Radhakrishnan said post launch.
"By 2014 we will launch two more navigational satellites - IRNSS-1C and IRNSS-1D. Three more navigational satellites will be launched early 2015. By middle of 2015, India will have all the navigational satellite system."
He said the ISRO team will be coming to its spaceport again in June to launch the country's heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle - Mark III (GSLV-Mk III).
Radhakrishnan had earlier said that India India is expected to have its own satellite navigation system with four satellites in the space before the end of this year
SDSC director MYS Prasad told IANS: "The launch time has been fixed taking into account the orbit and inclination at which the satellite will be injected into the space."
Soon after the satellite was put into the orbit, its solar panels were deployed.
The satellite control was taken over by the Mission Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka.
The MCF will manage the satellite's orbit infrastructure for controlling, tracking and other facilities.