ON A MISSION: The PSLV-C10 lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Monday. —
CHENNAI: On a cloudy day when the mist hung heavily in the air, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C10, successfully put the Israeli satellite Tecsar into orbit. It was a textbook launch with the “core-alone” configuration of the PSLV lifting off on time from the first launch pad at Sriharikota at 9.15 a.m. on Monday and injecting Tecsar into its precise orbit 19 minutes and 45 seconds after the lift-off. Tecsar, weighing 300 kg, is a remote-sensing satellite that can take pictures of the earth 365 days of the year, 24 hours of the day, through rain, clouds, day and night. It has a one-metre resolution. It was earlier known as Polaris.
It was a smooth countdown without any hiccup. At the appointed time of 9.15 a.m., the PSLV-C10 rose from the launch pad, built up momentum, and knifed into the sky with a reverberating roar. It was visible for a few seconds as it sped into a bit of a clear sky, then disappeared and became visible to be sheathed by the clouds again. The four stages of the PSLV-C10 ignited on time and jettisoned immaculately. Finally, the fourth stage put Tecsar into orbit. This was the 11th successful launch in a row for the trusty PSLV.
Contrary to custom, reporters and photographers were barred from entering the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota to cover the event. Israel reportedly wanted the launch kept under wraps.
The launch was executed under a commercial contract between the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), to which belongs Tecsar, and the Antrix Corporation, marketing agency of the Department of Space. Antrix has received a handsome amount from the IAI for launching the satellite. Satellite builders from Israel were present at Sriharikota.
G. Madhavan Nair, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation, told The Hindu at Sriharikota: “It was an absolutely perfect launch. Whatever we planned, we achieved on the dot. The satellite was injected into the desired orbit.”
Top ISRO rocket engineers said it was “one of the very best launches” of the PSLV. They called it “an excellent performance with a perfect injection of the satellite into orbit” with an apogee 580 km and a perigee of 450 km. The injection was done by the PSLV core-alone in which the six strap-on booster motors are removed.