Indian PSLV successfully lofts multiple satellites

February 25, 2013 by William Graham

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle made its 23rd flight on Monday, carrying seven satellites into sun-synchronous orbit including Austria’s first satellite. Liftoff from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre was marked at 12:31 UTC (18:01 local time).

ISRO Launch:

The primary payload for Monday’s launch was the 409-kilogram (902-pound) Satellite with ARGOS and AltiKa, or SARAL, which will be operated jointly by ISRO and the French space agency CNES. The spacecraft was built by ISRO around a bus designated the Minisatellite-SSB, Small Satellite Bus 1 (SSB-1) or IMS-2. Its instruments were built by CNES.

SARAL is equipped with the AltiKa radio altimeter and ARGOS-3 which will collect and relay data from remote observation posts and buoys. Two orbit determination systems are also aboard the satellite; Doppler Orbitography and Radio positioning Integrated by Satellite (DORIS) uses Doppler shifts in radio signals to monitor the satellite’s orbit, while a Laser Retroreflector Array (LRA) can be used to measure the distance from the ground by bouncing lasers off the satellite.

SARAL’s primary objective is to study the seas and oceans, in order to produce a more accurate model of surface topography and altitude. Its results are expected to compliment those of the Ocean Surface Topography Mission, being undertaken by the Jason-2 satellite launched in June 2008. It will also replace the oceanography functions of the Envisat spacecraft, which failed last April after ten years in orbit; more than twice its design life. SARAL is expected to operate for three years.

Three Canadian spacecraft were carried as secondary payloads.

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