The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Satellite beats bad weather

Sriharikota, Oct. 17: India perhaps ran a trial for its moon mission today when the country’s most advanced and heaviest remote-sensing satellite was launched in adverse weather.

An overcast sky and constant downpour did not prevent the timely launch of the 1,360-kg Resourcesat-1 (IRS-P6) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here this morning.

Indian Space Research Organisation chief G. Madhavan Nair said: “We had an excellent team who gave us the confidence and an opportunity to prove that the PSLV (polar satellite launch vehicle) is all-weather capable, and that we can do space launches even in moderate rains.”

Normally, the Isro would not have risked a key mission in such bad weather as the northeast monsoon had virtually set in.

As the PSLV-C5 shot off on its eighth flight amid crimson-yellow fumes, Union minister of state for space and atomic energy Satyabrata Mukherjee watched keenly along with scientists and former Isro chairmen U.R. Rao and K. Kasturirangan.

After congratulations were exchanged, Mukherjee said the PSLV’s seventh successful flight in a row had “unequivocally demonstrated” it to be a “real workhorse”. The launch vehicle will be used “for our first mission to the moon”, he added.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee were “highly impressed by the performance”, followed live on television, Nair said.

“It was a very successful mission, as planned, in injecting the satellite into the SSO (sun synchronous orbit) and the accuracy was world class today,” said Nair, whose organisation, along with other Indian space labs, built the satellite.

The Resourcesat-1 was in good health as the first signals had been received from the ground station in Mauritius, he added.

The Rs 230-crore mission (Rs 150 crore for the spacecraft alone) marked the 18th launch by the Isro since it first sent up SLV-3 EI rocket in August 1979. The current satellite was the Isro’s 10th in its remote sensing series.

The Resourcesat-1 will take over remote-sensing data services provided by its predecessors, IRS-IC and IRS-ID, both of which have outlived their mission lives, Nair said.

The current satellite, with a life span of five years, will beam back better quality data — from an altitude of 821 km — to the National Remote Sensing Agency’s data reception station at Shadnagar, near Hyderabad, an official said.

Its imagery will be used by agencies such as the Indian Meteorological Department and departments of agriculture, environment and fisheries for applications such as land-use, wasteland and forest cover mappings, and crop acreage.

Nair emphasised the commercial potential of the satellite pictures, whose sale to foreign agencies yielded Rs 20 crore annually. “We hope to take a sizeable part of the world business in this field,” he said.

Representatives of potential customers from the US and Europe were present at the launch.

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