The Indian Space Research Organisation is preparing for its 100th mission next month with the commercial launch of two foreign satellites from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
ISRO plans to launch 720-kg SPOT-6 remote sensing satellite from France (built by ASTRIUM SAS) and a 15-kg Japanese spacecraft Protiers on board the home-grown Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C21) in the second week of September, in a major milestone of sorts.
"We have today (so far) put 99 missions (62 satellites and 37 launch vehicles) from the days of Aryabhata (satellite) of 1975", Chairman of Bangalore-headquartered space agency, K Radhakrishnan told PTI in Bengaluru.
"PSLV-C21 would be the 100th mission. The launch is basically for commercial purposes".
In what could be a "double delight" for Indian space scientists, ISRO's 3400-kg communication satellite GSAT-10 is also likely to be launched between September 19 and 21 by European space consortium Arianespace's Ariane-5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana.
Radhakrishnan, also chairman of Space Commission and secretary in the Department of Space, said GSAT-10 would carry 30 transponders, including 12 in Ku band, along with a GAGAN (GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation) payload. GSAT-10 is a Rs 750 crore mission, including launch services cost.
ISRO officials said GSAT-10, which will have a minimum operational life of 15 years, is envisaged to augment the growing need for transponders and provide communication services and augment the existing ones.
"The next launch (after GSAT-10) is going to be another PSLV launch", Radhakrishnan said. "It (SARAL, an Indo-French satellite) is a joint activity in the sense payload is built by France (CNES), satellite is by ISRO and launch is by ISRO".
SARAL will provide data products to operational and research user communities, in support of marine meteorology and sea state forecasting; operational oceanography; seasonal forecasting; climate monitoring; ocean, earth system and climate research, ISRO officials said.