SRIHARIKOTA -- Country's first dedicated satellite for astronomical research, Astrosat, was successfully launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre today here in Bengaluru at 10 a.m. With several instruments onboard, dedicated to deep-space observation, the Astrosat has of late been referred to as India's version of, Hubble, NASA's space observatory
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C30 is carrying Astrosat along with six other co-passengers, one satellite each from Indonesia and Canada, and four nano-satellites from the US.
PSLV will fly in its extended configuration this time, keeping in view the total payload weight of 1631 kg. The Astrosat has the ability to observe celestial bodies like distant stars and cosmic X-Ray sources in different wavelengths simultaneously.
Along with Astrosat, four identical nano-satellites of Spire Global Inc., the US, a micro-satellite from Indonesia and a nano-satellite of the University of Toronto, Canada are also set to take off.
Within 22 minutes 33 seconds of ignition of the PSLV, lobbed Astrosat in its 650 km orbit, followed by the smaller payloads.
This is the third time, a PSLV rocket has launched seven satellites in a single mission. In 2008, ISRO had launched 10 satellites in one go, including India's Cartosate-2A satellite.
According to the Indian Express, the various other satellites that ISRO has placed in space over the last three decades were mainly geared at applications – remote sensing, communications, mapping, navigation and many others. Again, these are essential aspects of a country’s space programme. But with ASTROSAT, ISRO is attempting to fulfil what is the core mandate of any space agency — study of astronomical phenomena.