NEW DELHI: The countdown before liftoff is always a heart-stopping moment during a satellite launch. And it was no different today at the Indian Space Research Organization's (ISRO's) second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The space agency's scientists looked on nervously at their old workhorse, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which had its forty second communications satellite CMS-01 as its payload. However, at 3:41 pm, the spacecraft took off as planned — in an almost picture perfect, blemish-free blastoff. And even more good news was to follow: 20 minutes after launch, the satellite separated successfully from the fourth stage of the rocket and was injected into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
"The satellite is functioning well and it will be placed in a specified slot in the next four days. Teams worked very well and safely under Covid2019 pandemic situation," said ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan.
CMS-01 carries 12 Extended C band transponders which will strengthen the country's telecommunication services. The extended C band uses 3.4 to 3.7 GHz for downlink and 6.425 to 6.725 GHz for uplinks of the signals and is relatively less susceptible to rain fade and weather interference.
With a mission life of seven years, the bird will provide coverage to the Indian mainland, Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands. It will replace the ageing GSAT-12 which was launched in 2011.
The space agency had chosen the ‘XL’ variant of the 44m high PSLV with six strapons for its fifty second flight. In the normal configuration, PSLV is a four stage/engine expendable rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively with six booster motors strapped on to the first stage to give higher thrust during the initial flight moments.
The premier space agency is now preparing for the launch of new small rocket Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) which will carry EOS-02 (Earth Observation Satellite). It will be followed by the launch of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10 (GSLV) which will carry EOS-3 in space.
The other Indian satellites that are ready for launch are GISAT and Microsat-2A. The launch of GISAT-1 was earlier slated for 5 March, but was postponed due to technical reasons 24 hours before D-Day.