India’s space programme will break new ground next week, with the highly-proven four-stage 44-metre polar satellite launch vehicle placing in orbit the heaviest satellite it has carried during the last nine years of its operation. This launch will take place at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on October 16, 2003, at 10.20 am. The satellite, designated as ‘Resourcesat’, weighs 1,360 kg. It will be used for remote sensing purposes related to the areas of agriculture, disaster management, land and water resources.
An Indian Space Research Organisation official told TNN on Thursday that the significance of the launch was that it will demonstrate the PSLV’s capability to place heavy satellites in orbit. He recalled that the first operational flight of the PSLV in May 1999 placed three satellites in orbit. These were India’s Oceansat (1,050 kg); South Korea’s Kitsat (107 kg) and Germany’s Tubsat (45 kg). On October 22, 2001, the rocket again placed three satellites — India’s TES (1,108 kg), Germany’s Bird (92 kg) and Belgium’s Proba (94 kg) — in orbit. On September 12, 2002, the rocket put in orbit a meteorological satellite, Kalpana-1, weighing 1,060 kg. “Resourcesat will, therefore, be the heaviest satellite that the PSLV has carried till now,” the official stated.
According to him, if the mission succeeds, countries planning to place heavy satellites in orbit can use the PSLV because the launch cost is less expensive in India, compared to the other countries. He explained that the PSLV was originally developed to place 1,000 kg Indian remote sensing satellites in orbit.
Since its first successful flight in October 1994, the rocket’s capability has been enhanced to carry heavier satellites. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will visit the spaceport at Sriharikota between 10 am and 12 pm on Friday. He is scheduled to go around the space complex, where he worked in August 1979 and July 1980 during the launch of the SLV-3 rocket.