ASTROSAT India's own observatory launched into space
NEW DELHI: A satellite launch vehicle carrying ASTROSAT, India's first astronomy observatory to study distant celestial objects, was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh this morning.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-30 lifted off from the launch pad at the rocket port in Sriharikota, around 80 km from Chennai, at 10 am. Minutes later, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) declared that the PSLV has successfully launched ASTROSAT into the orbit.
With its successful launch, India becomes the first country in the developing world to have its own telescope in space and joins a select club of US, European Union and Japan to have such a capability. China is still working on its first space telescope called the 'Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope'.
The turbo-charged 'mini Hubble Telescope' will be used to study black holes and analyse how stars and galaxies are actually born and how they ultimately die.
This flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is historic as, for the first time, American satellites are being launched by India. Till recently, the US had kept ISRO under sanctions and was denied the critical cryogenic engine technology which pushed back India's foray into deep space by two decades.
The four small LEMUR satellites are being launched for a San Francisco-based company.
The PSLV will also carry a Canadian and an Indonesian small earth observing satellite.
This will be the 31st flight of the PSLV rocket, which has had 30 consecutive successful flights till date.
ASTROSAT will be placed almost 650 kilometres above the surface of the Earth and is expected to have a mission life of 5-years.
"The global astronomy community is looking forward to this launch as no other global space-based telescope has comparable capabilities," Dr Kiran Kumar, ISRO Chairman had said on Sunday.
The 1,515-kilogram satellite has been assembled at the ISRO's Satellite Centre in Bengaluru. It took the agency Rs. 178 crore and 10 years to make it. The idea was conceived more than 20 years ago.
Top Indian institutions like Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) in Bengaluru, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) in Pune and the Raman Research Institute (RRI) of Bengaluru were involved in its development.
With its successful launch, ISRO asserts, India will be the only country to have
multi-wavelength space-based observatory capable of monitoring intensity variations in a broad range of cosmic sources.
According to ISRO, the satellite will have concurrent wide spectral coverage over visible, ultra-violet, soft X-ray and hard X-ray regions of the spectrum.
"Black holes, neutron stars, pulsars, white dwarfs, quasars, and active galactic nuclei are just some of the cosmic objects that the ASTROSAT will observe," said Dr John Hutchings of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Canada, who was a part of the mission.