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May 21, 1999
The Indian Space Research Organisation is all a flurry in preparation of its first commercial flight.
The launch window has been calculated between 11.40 am and 12 noon on May 26.
The rocket's primary payload is the Indian remote sensing satellite IRS-P4, or Oceansat. But, of course, what is making history is the auxiliary payload: the South Korean and German satellites.
The foreign cargo puts India into the international business of launching satellites.
Sriharikota Range Centre Director Dr S Vasanta assures "Everything is going on smoothly and PSLV-C2 will be ready for launch on May 26 between 1140 and 1200 hours." The integration of the vehicle and the three satellites has been completed, he says.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is reaching the spaceport on May 25, a day early, to witness the launch along with ISRO Chairman Dr K Kasturirangan.
Besides Indian satellites IRS-P4, the PSLV-C2 rocket will carry 107-kg Korean Institute of Technology Satellite (KITSAT) and 45-kg Technology University of Berlin Satellite (TUBSAT), as auxiliary payloads to inject them in the polar Sun-synchronous circular orbit, Dr Vasanta explains.
This is also the first time that an Indian launch vehicle will carry more than one satellite totally weighing 1,200 kg, he points out.
Like PSLV-C1, the first operational vehicle, PSLV-C2 also has four stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately.
The first, second and third stages of PSLV-C2 will be the same as PSLV-C1. But the new rocket's fourth stage has been modified in the platform.
The PSLV-C2 stands 44.43 metre tall and weighs 294 tonnes at lift-off.
IRS-P4, the indigenously built ocean satellite is carrying an ocean colour monitor and a multi-frequency scanning microwave radiometer. It is the third remote sensing satellite to be launched by a PSLV rocket.
IRS-P4 will also measure physical and biological parameters of the oceans. This will be followed by IRS-P5 for cartographic applications and IRS-P6 for agricultural resources survey in the coming years.
The first two remote sensing satellites, IRS-P2 and IRS-P3 have been launched using developmental flights of PSLV. IRS-P2 was launched on October 15, 1994, and IRS-P3 was launched on March 21, 1996.
The launch of the South Korean and German satellites will see India entering the commercial market of launching satellites.
India signalled to the world its capacity to launch satellites weighing over 1,000 kg when it successfully placed IRS-1D, a 1,200-kg satellite on September 29, 1997.
The South Korean satellite is a technological satellite primarily to develop capabilities and prove many systems for micro-miniaturisation. It carries a small camera for remote sensing.
The three satellites would be put into the orbit one by one, starting with IRS-P4. There would be a gap of few seconds before another satellite is injected into the orbit.
After putting IRS-P4 into the orbit first, the vehicle would make a yaw manoeuvre, turning 40 degrees before putting out KITSAT. This would be quickly followed by the release of TUBSAT.
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