By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), Aug 12 (IANS) India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10 (GSLV-F10) rocket, with the country’s first Geo-Imaging Satellite (GISAT-1), lifted off from the spaceport here early on Thursday.
Precisely at 5:43 a.m., the 51.70 metre tall, 416 ton GSLV-F10 rocket, with a thunderous sound, began its ascent towards space from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC).
The GSLV is a three stage/engine rocket, with the first stage’s core fired with solid fuel and the four strap-on motors by liquid fuel. The second is liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
Just over 18 minutes into its flight, it will sling the 2,268 kg GISAT-1/EOS-03 in the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).
From the GTO, the satellite will be taken upwards further to be placed in the geostationary orbit.
According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), GISAT-1/EOS-03, with a life span of 10 years, will be the country’s first eye in the sky or earth observation satellite to be placed in geostationary orbit.
Once placed in geostationary orbit, the satellite will have a steady eye on the areas of interest — moving in sync with the rotation of the earth and hence seeming stationary — unlike other remote sensing satellites placed in lower orbit that can come over a spot only at regular intervals.
Originally the GISAT-1/EOS-03 was slated for launch on March 5, 2020, but hours before the launch, the ISRO announced postponement of the mission owing to some technical glitch.
Soon after, the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown delayed the mission. The rocket had to be dismantled and cleaned up.
Subsequently, the GISAT-1/EOS-03 launch was slated for March 2021 but due to problems in the satellite’s battery side, the flight got delayed again.
With the replacement of the battery, the satellite and the rocket were being readied for their flight at Sriharikota when the second wave of Covid-19 swept in, affecting many at the rocket launch centre.
The Indian space agency had earlier said the GISAT-1/EOS-03 would provide a real time image of a large area of region of interest at frequent intervals. It will also enable quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events, and any short-term events.
The satellite will have payload imaging sensors of six band multi-spectral visible and near infra-red with 42 metres resolution, 158 bands hyper-spectral visible and near infra-red with 318 metres resolution, and 256 bands hyper-spectral short wave infra-red with 191 metres resolution.
A four-metre diameter Ogive shaped payload fairing (heat shield) made with composite will be used in the rocket for the first time, ISRO had said.
According to ISRO, after the GISAT-1/EOS-03 launch, the other satellite to go up will be the EOS-4 or Risat-1A, a radar imaging satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that can take pictures during day and night looking through the clouds.
The Risat-1A satellite, weighing over 1,800 kg and carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) this September, is a repeat microwave remote sensing satellite of Risat-1 and is configured to ensure continuity of SAR in C-Band providing microwave data to the user community for operational services.
The satellite will play a strategic role in the nation’s defence with its capability to operate in day, night and all weather conditions with a mission life of five years.
The satellite has high data handling systems and high storage devices, among other things.
The Indian space agency said Risat-1A will provide imaging data for various applications related to land, water and environment which find useful inputs for agriculture, forestry and water resource management.
The 1,858 kg Risat-1 was launched in 2012 using a PSLV rocket. Its mission life was five years.
India presently has three fully operational rockets — the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), and the GSLV-Mk II with a carrying capacity of 2.5 tonne and GSLV-MkIII with a payload capacity of four tonne.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)