NEW DELHI — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Feb. 25 orbited seven satellites, including the Indo-French “Saral” ocean-monitoring satellite and the world’s first smartphone-operated nanosatellite.
The Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) fully-indigenous PSLV-C20 vehicle, standing 44 meters (144 ft.) tall, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan space center at Sriharikota in south India at 6:01 p.m. local time, a ISRO official says.
The satellite, earlier slated to be lofted on Dec. 12, faced delays following “some technical issues” that cropped up, according to ISRO scientists. The launch marks ISRO’s 101th space mission and the first of the 10 planned for 2013.
The indigenously built Saral small satellite mission carries two payloads — dubbed Argos and Altika — built by French space agency CNES to study the world’s oceans, providing data for marine meteorology and sea-state forecasting, operational oceanography, seasonal forecasting and climate monitoring, as well as ocean, Earth system and climate research, the ISRO official says.
Among the other satellites put into orbit are two Canadian satellites: NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Space Surveillance Satellite), the world’s first space telescope designed by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA); and the Sapphire satellite built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates.
NEOSSat will spot and track asteroids and satellites while circling the globe every 100 min. and scanning space near the Sun to pinpoint otherwise nearly invisible asteroids, according to the CSA. The satellite will also be useful in tracking space debris. Sapphire will look for man-made objects in orbit, including functioning satellites and space debris circling between 3,728 mi. and 24,855 mi. altitude.
Two Austrian satellites — Brite and Unibrite — and Denmark’s AAUSAT were also among those successfully put into orbit by the ISRO rocket.
The seventh spacecraft — Britain’s Strand-1 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) satellite — is the world’s first “smartphone satellite,” carrying a Google Nexus One phone running on the Android operating system.
The satellite, weighing 6.5 kg (14 lb.), is a British mission jointly developed by the University of Surrey’s Surrey Space Center and Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). The phone will run several applications, collect data and photograph the Earth with its camera. Once all the satellite’s own operating systems have been checked out, key system functions will be transferred to the phone’s components to take control and operate the satellite, SSTL says.
The mission takes ISRO’s tally of foreign satellites launched to 35. ISRO started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket.
ISRO has lined up 58 missions for its 12th five-year plan (2012-17), comprising 25 launch vehicles and 33 satellites.
On Sept. 9, ISRO launched its 100th space mission on board the PSLV-C21, putting two foreign satellites into orbit. It hopes to launch a much-awaited orbiter mission to Mars later this year