The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) will take up its 100th mission on Sept. 9 with the launch of its latest Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C21), carrying two international satellites.
The two satellites are France’s 800-kg (1,800-lb.) SPOT-6 remote-sensing satellite, built by Astrium, and a 15-kg Japanese microsatellite called Proiteres, which is a technology demonstrator for Earth observation carrying a high-resolution camera.
A team of students and faculty at the Osaka Institute of Technology (OIT) developed Proiteres (Project of OIT Electric Rocket Engine onboard small Spaceship).
The four stages of the PSLV have been assembled on the launch pad in Sriharikota. The vehicle weighs 230 tons and stands 44 meters tall.
The PSLV is capable of launching satellites weighing 1,600 kg into a 620-km (385-mi.) Sun-synchronous polar orbit, or 1,050-kg spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The rocket’s stages use a mix of solid and liquid propulsion.
The first stage, powered by one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world, carries 139 tons of propellant. A cluster of six strap-ons are attached to the first-stage motor, four of which are ignited on the ground and two in flight. For this mission, ISRO will not need the six strap-on motors.
The mission will take ISRO’s total tally of foreign satellites launched to 29. India’s space odyssey began when the Aryabhatta satellite lifted off from the Volgograd launch station at Kapustin-Yar on April 19, 1975. Since then, ISRO has undertaken 99 missions, including 62 satellites and 37 launch vehicles.
ISRO is also planning to launch its ambitious Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle, with an indigenously built cryogenic engine, early in 2013.
“A lot of ground tests have already been conducted and we need to do two major ground tests this year, scheduled from September to November. Once the tests are successful, the cryogenic stage will be integrated into the GSLV vehicle for the launch,” ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said Aug. 23. Two previous launches of the GSLV by the space agency were unsuccessful.
ISRO’s 3,400-kg GSAT-10 communication satellite is due to launch between Sept. 21-23, aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana.