An Indian rocket successfully placed into orbit seven satellites including one with an Nexus One onboard yesterday. The satellites included the Indo-French satellite SARAL, the world's first smartphone-operated nano satellite STRaND-1, a space telescope satellite and four other foreign satellites.

The rocket — Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C20 (PSLV-C20) — hurtled towards the skies on Monday evening, ferrying the seven satellites together weighing 668.5 kg. President Pranab Mukherjee witnessed the first of the 10 space missions planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2013 and also the country's 101st space mission.

At around 18 minutes into the flight PSLV-C20 spat out SARAL satellite. The following four minutes saw the rocket ejecting six satellites in their intended polar orbit. Immediately on the successfully ejection of the seven satellites, scientists at the mission control centre were visibly relieved and started clapping happily. Mukherjee congratulated the scientists. “Delighted to witness the remarkable launch of the PSLV. I congratulate ISRO for successfully executing the mission,” he said.

The STRaND-1 satellite, powered by the Nexus One. The phone's camera is seen at the top of the stack. (Image credit: SSTL)

The STRaND-1 satellite, powered by the Nexus One. The phone's camera is seen at the top of the stack. (Image credit: SSTL)

The STRaND-1 (Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator) is the world's first 'smartphone satellite' carrying the Google Nexus One on board. The phone will run several applications, including collection of data and photographing the earth with its camera. Once all the satellite's own operating systems have been checked out, key system functions will be transferred to the phone's components to take control and operate the satellite, SSTL said on its website.

Two of the SARAL satellite's payload (ARGOS and ALTIKA) has been supplied by the French National Space Agency CNES while the solid state C-band transponder is from ISRO.

Indian space agency officials told IANS the data from SARAL will be useful for operational as well as research user communities in fields like marine meteorology and sea state forecasting; operational oceanography; seasonal forecasting; climate monitoring; ocean, earth system and climate research; continental ice studies; protection of bio-diversity; management and protection of the marine eco-system; environmental monitoring and improvement of maritime security.

Among the other six satellites that PSLV-C20 would sling into orbit are two Canadian satellites, NEOSSat (Near Earth Object Space Surveillance Satellite), and Sapphire satellite built by MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates; Austria’s BRITE and UniBRITE, and AAUSAT from Denmark.


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