India successfully launched its PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) today, carrying into orbit the 410 kg Indo-French built SARAL satellite, intended for ocean monitoring, as well as six other small satellites. Among them was NEOSSat, a Canadian built, suitcase sized satellite which will function as the world’s first space based telescope specifically designed to search for Near Earth Asteroids. Talk about good timing.
The launch of the four stage rocket, which is a mix of solid and liquid fueled stages, took place from the ISRO’s Satish Dhawin Space Center, following a trajectory south over the Indian ocean and into a sun synchronous orbit, and was attended by Indian President Pranab Mukhejee.
In contrast to India’s larger GSLV, Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, which has had a difficult development marred by several failures, the PLSV has proven quite successful, recording 21 successes and 1 partial success (lower than intended orbit) after only one failure which occurred on its maiden flight. Most notably, the PSLV is slated to launch India’s first mission to Mars, an orbiting satellite, later this year.