The Indian Space Research Organisation is set to achieve a breakthrough on January 10 with the launch of four payloads, including the Cartosat-2 satellite and a recoverable space capsule. This will be the first time ISRO will launch four payloads on a single rocket.
ISRO's PSLV-C7 rocket will carry the payloads, including Indonesian and Argentinian satellites, into space in what is being considered a milestone in the country's space programme.
The Mission Readyness Review Committee will meet on Saturday, January 6, to finalise the details of the launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, the facility's director M Annamali and Mission Director N Narayana Moorthy told a group of visiting journalists.
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C7 will carry Cartosat-2 (a 680-kg mapping satellite), the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment-1 (of 550 kg), Indonesia's Lapan-Tubsat (of 56 kg) and Argentina's Pehuensat-1 (of 6 kg).
The assembling of the satellites and their integration with the rocket are currently in an advanced stage.
The recovery capsule is significant as it will pave the way for ISRO's reusable launch vehicle project, Annamali said.
The SRE-1 will provide valuable experience in key fields like navigation, guidance and control during the re-entry phase, development of reusable thermal protection system and basic technology for reusable launch vehicles, he said.
The SRE-1 comprises an aero-thermo structure, spacecraft platform deceleration and floatation systems and micro-gravity payloads.
Prior to its de-orbiting, the SRE-1 will be placed in an elliptical orbit. Subsequently, it will be reoriented and its de-boost rocket will be fired to make it re-enter the earth's atmosphere, Moorthy said.
On re-entry, a parachute system will reduce its touchdown speed and the SRE-1 is expected to land in the Bay of Bengal, about 140 km east of Sriharikota, he said.
It is planned to recover the SRE-1 after the spacecraft spends 12 days in orbit and completes micro-gravity experiments, he said.
Cartosat-2, the 12th in the Indian Remote Sensing satellite series, is an advanced remote sensing satellite capable of providing scene-specific spot imagery. The data available from it will be used for planning rural and urban development, Annamali said.
The satellite has a panchromatic camera to provide imagery with a spatial resolution of better than one metre and a swath of 9.6 km, Moorthy said. It can spot objects on the ground measuring about a metre.
The re-visiting time of the satellite is four days which can be reduced to a day, he said. The satellite will be placed in a 635-km polar sun-synchronous orbit and its operational life is five years.
Referring to the modifications incorporated in PSLV-C7, Moorthy said a dual launch adopter was used in the rocket for the first time to accommodate the payloads.
"We are ready, and the countdown will start 52 hours before launch time," Moorthy said.
Fuelling operations will start once the countdown begins, and the rocket will be fired from the first launch pad, he said.
The Lapan-Tubsat is an earth observation satellite -- a cooperative venture between the Technical University of Berlin
and the Indonesian Space Agency, he said.
Pehuensat-1, developed by the Argentina School of Engineering and the Argentina Association for Space and Technology, is
intended to gain experience for designing more complex satellittes for educational, technological and scientific purposes.
On the commercial aspect of space service, director of public relations and publications Krishnamoorthy said Antrix
Corporation, which looks after commercial operations, earned a revenue of Rs 414 crore and a profit of Rs 61 crore last year.
The corporation has orders worth Rs 3,000 crore for various space services, he said.