The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) have launched a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle on, carrying the French SPOT-6 Earth observation satellite, along with a 15-kilogram Japanese microsatellite.
Lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre was on schedule at 04:23 UTC
The sixth satellite in France’s Système Probatoire d’Observation de la Terre, or SPOT, programme, SPOT-6 is an optical imaging satellite capable of imaging the Earth with a resolution of 1.5 metres.
Constructed by EADS Astrium, it is based on the AstroSat-500 Mk.II bus, has a mass of 712 kilograms (1,600 lb) and is expected to operate for ten years. Another satellite, SPOT-7, is scheduled for launch in 2014.
SPOT-6, launch carried the Project of OIT Electric-Rocket-Engine Onboard Small Space Ship, or PROITERES, satellite for Japan’s Osaka Institute of Technology (OIT).
A 15-kilogram microsatellite equipped with a boom for gravity gradient stabilisation, PROITERES will be used for experiments investigating the propagation of radio signals, testing communications systems, and demonstrating electric propulsion for small satellites. It also carries a high resolution camera for earth imaging.
The mini Redundant Strap down Inertial Navigation System, or mRESINS, payload is also being flown aboard the PSLV. This is a technology demonstration payload operated by ISRO, testing new avionics for future PSLV missions; similar to the AAM payload launched by PSLV C8. Like AAM, it will remain bolted to the rocket’s upper stage following launch.
The spacecraft was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation, ISRO, using a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, or PSLV. First flown in 1993, the PSLV is the most flown and most successful Indian orbital launch system yet developed. The launch will use the Core Alone configuration, the smallest PSLV variant in use
The first flight of the PSLV in September 1993 carried the IRS-1E satellite; however a guidance problem resulted in the rocket failing to achieve orbit. Another failure occurred on the first operational launch in September 1997.
This failure resulted in the payload being placed into a lower-than-planned orbit, from which it expended a significant quantity of its on board fuel in an effort to recover.
The launch of SPOT-6 was the second mission for India’s PSLV this year, following the deployment of RISAT-1 in April. Overall, it marked the twenty-second flight of the PSLV, and the eighth of the Core Alone configuration.
PSLV-CA configuration was first used in April 2007, on the C8 flight, to deploy the AGILE spacecraft for the Italian Space Agency; a mission which also carried ISRO’s AAM avionics experiment. Its next launch came in January 2008, deploying Israel’s TecSAR radar imaging spacecraft, with another launch in April carrying CartoSat-2A, IMS-1, seven CubeSats and the Rubin-8 payload. A year later, the fourth flight launched RISAT-2 and ANUSAT.
In September 2009, the next PSLV-CA deployed OceanSat-2 and four CubeSats, also carrying the Rubin-9 payload, which like Rubin-8, remained intentionally attached to the upper stage. The sixth launch, in July 2010, orbited CartoSat-2B, AlSat-2A, and three CubeSats. The most recent flight before C21 occurred in October 2011, when PSLV C18 deployed the Franco-Indian Megha-Tropiques satellite, along with the VesselSat-1, SRMSAT and Jugnu spacecraft.