“The 28-hour countdown began at 5.29 a.m. in the mission control here for the rocket launch at 9.28 a.m. on Friday,” said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on its website. The countdown started after the Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) gave the clearance on Wednesday.
The first space mission of 2018 boards the PSLV-C40 and carries significance as it comes four months after a similar rocket failed to deliver the country’s eighth navigation satellite in the earth’s lower orbit on August 31 last year. The PSLV-C39 was unsuccessful as the heat shield failed to separate.
This launch carries a high significance for ISRO as “The micro satellite will be India’s 100th satellite in space,” as reported by Satellite Centre Director M. Annadurai on Tuesday.
The Indian satellites are 710 kg Cartosat-2 series for earth observation, a 100-kg micro satellite and a 5 kg nano satellite. About 17 minutes 18 seconds after the lift off, the Cartosat-2 series will be separated and injected into its 505-km sun synchronous orbit. The Cartosat-2 has been designed to stay in its orbit for five years.
As an observational satellite, Cartosat will beam high-quality images for cartographic, urban and rural applications, coastal land use and regulation and utility management like road network monitoring.
Among the 28 international co-traveler satellites, 19 satellites belong to the US, 5 satellites belong to South Korea and one satellite each from Canada, France, UK and Finland.
The total weight of all 31 satellites is 1,323 kg. The entire launch of satellites is expected to happen over a period of 2 hours and 21 seconds
The 28th international customer satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between ISRO and its commercial arm ‘Antrix Corporation Ltd’.
India also plans to have at least one rocket launch a month this year.
ISRO will also be launching its second lunar mission (Chandrayaan-2) to the Moon, with an orbiter, lander and rover for the first time.
Advanced communication satellites GSAT-6A and GSAT-29 will also be deployed in geosynchronous orbit (36,000km above earth) through the future launches.