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India joins commercial launch market

April 23, 2007 16:54 IST

India on Monday entered the global commercial launch market with ISRO's workhorse launch vehicle PSLV-C8 successfully placing 352-kg Italian astronomical satellite AGILE into a 550 km circular orbit around 22 minutes after lift off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on Monday.

After a perfect blast-off, jubilant scientists broke into celebration as the PSLV in its 11th flight, released the satellite into the orbit at around 3.52 pm, marking India's first fully commercial launch.

This is PSLV's 10th successful launch since 1994. "It is a 100 per cent success to the entire ISRO community. We have made a good entry into the launch business and hope we will have more opportunities in the near future," a beaming ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair said.

Giovanni Bignami, President, Italian Space Agency, said "It is an intense and emotional moment. It is a performance better than expected and an even more successful mission. I think you (India) have now made a very important score for India's launch into space market," he added.

India becomes the fifth country after United States, Russia, China and France to enter the launch market.

Earlier, PSLVs had launched small satellites for a nominal fee, but this time Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Department of Space, had clinched the deal.

The PSLV-C8 also carried ISRO's 185-kg Advanced Avionics Module (AMM), an important payload to flight-test advanced avionics such as mission computers, navigation and telemetry systems for use in future launch vehicles of ISRO.

A Dual Launch Adaptor (DLA) was employed and the AGILE was mounted on top of the DLA while the AMM was mounted inside it.

The Italian satellite, is a X-ray and gamma ray astronomical satellite of the Italian Space Agency (ASI). It is equipped with scientific instruments capable of imaging distant celestial objects in X-ray and Gamma ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

T K Rohit in Sriharikota (AP)
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