Monday, April 28, 2008

India launches record 10 satellites in one rocket

An Indian rocket launched a record 10 satellites into orbit in a single mission Monday, underlining the nation's emergence as a major competitor in the multi-billion-dollar space market.

The PSLV rocket ejected all the satellites within minutes of each other after liftoff at 9:20 a.m. (0350 GMT) in clear weather from the Sriharikota space station in southern India, the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

The mission's success demonstrated India's ability to launch multiple payloads into precise orbit as it seeks to reap commercial benefits from its 45-year-old space programme.

It was the 13th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has "repeatedly proved itself as a reliable and versatile workhorse launch vehicle," said ISRO.

The rocket's unprecedented payload included an Indian remote-sensing satellite known as the Cartosat-2A, a mini satellite and eight so-called nanosatellites developed by foreign research institutions, including those from Germany and Canada.
The satellites were deployed in orbit within minutes of each other in a rare space feat, with the entire mission lasting about 20 minutes.
High resolution images and data from the satellite will be used to manage infrastructure and natural resources in the country, officials said.

India started its space programme in 1963, and has since developed and put several of its own satellites into space. It has also designed and built launch rockets to reduce dependence on overseas space agencies.