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With 5 foreign payloads launched into orbit, PM asks ISRO for SAARC satellite

Sriharikota, Jun 30 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday asked India’s space agency to develop a satellite that can be dedicated as a 'gift' to member-nations of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

“Today I ask you, the space community, to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC satellite that we can dedicate to our neighbourhood as a gift from India,” he said after witnessing the successful launch of five foreign satellites from here on board the PSLV C-23 rocket of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

He asked the scientists to work on a satellite that would provide full range of applications and services to all of India's neighbours.

“Such a satellite will be helpful in SAARC nations' fight against poverty and illiteracy, the challenge to progress in scientific field, and will open up avenues to provide opportunities to the youth of SAARC countries,” he said from ISRO's Mission Control Room.

The 'dream' for such a satellite will be useful for the development of all SAARC nations with India playing a key role in that, Modi reasoned in a speech laced with anecdotes and delivered in a mix of English and Hindi.

Modi described Monday’s precision launch of five satellites from four countries by ISRO as an 'endorsement' of the country's space capabilities.

After a perfect lift off from the First Launch Pad in Satish Dhawan Space Centre here at 9.52am witnessed by Modi, the ISRO’s workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C23 placed all five satellites into their intended orbits, one after the other between 17 and 19 minutes after liftoff, with textbook precision.

Besides its primary payload, the 714kg French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7, the PSLV C23 carried and placed in orbit the 14kg AISAT of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada each weighing 15kg, and the 7kg VELOX-1 of Singapore.

In his first official visit to this spaceport, Modi asked the space community to develop a SAARC satellite even as he heaped praise on Indian space scientists, recalling their contributions from the early days.

Modi, who said it was a 'privilege' to witness the event, congratulated “our brilliant space scientists for a successful launch”.

”This fills every Indian's heart with pride and I can see the joy reflected on your face,” he said from the Mission Control Room, adding Monday's successful launch of foreign satellites was a “global endorsement of India's space capability”.

Besides Modi, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Union Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also witnessed the launch from the Sriharikota spaceport, about 100km from Chennai.

The Prime Minister had on Sunday arrived in Chennai en route to Sriharikota to witness the event.

French satellite SPOT 7, identical to the SPOT-6 that ISRO had launched in 2012, would be placed diametrically opposite to SPOT-6, forming part of the existing Earth observation satellite. European space technology company Airbus Defence & Space has built SPOT-7.

Germany's AISAT satellite would focus on the global sea-traffic monitoring system with special emphasis on high traffic zones using AIS signals. It is also Germany's first DLR satellite in the nano-satellite class.

NLS 7.1 and NLS 7.2 are from the University of Toronto, Institute of Aerospace Studies/ Space Flight Laboratory in Canada. Both payloads would perform two-spacecraft precision formation flying using differential GPS with centimetre-level relative position and sub-metre level accurate position control system.

Satellite VELOX-1 from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore is a technology demonstrator for in-house design of image sensor, MEMS-based attitude determination and control system and inter-satellite RF link.

The five satellites were launched under commercial arrangements that ANTRIX, ISRO's commercial arm, entered into with the respective foreign agencies.

ISRO has so far launched 35 satellites from 19 countries around the globe -- Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Singapore, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Turkey and United Kingdom.


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