An Indian rocket Sunday successfully launched into orbit two foreign satellites, marking Indian space agency ISRO's 100th mission in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “As ISRO's 100th space mission, today's launch is a milestone in our nation's space capabilities,” the prime minister said here after the launch.

Exactly at 9.51 a.m., the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C21 (PSLV-C21), standing around 44 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonne, with a one-way ticket, hurtled itself towards the skies ferrying two the satellites – SPOT 6, a French earth observation satellite weighing 712 kg, and a 15 kg micro satellite Proiteres from Japan.

The PSLV, costing around Rs.75 crore, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, around 80 km from Chennai.The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has now completed its 100th mission since the launch of first satellite Aryabhata in 1975 by a Russian rocket.

Indian space agency scores a perfect 100!

Two satellites successfully launched into orbit

With a rich orange flame at its tail and plume of white smoke, the rocket ascended towards the sky amid cheers of ISRO scientists and media team assembled at the launch centre.People perched atop the nearby buildings too happily clapped as the rocket went up.

Space scientists at ISRO new rocket mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth's gravitational pull.At around 18 minutes into the flight, PSLV-C21 delivered SPOT 6 and a few seconds later Proiteres into a 655 km polar orbit inclined at an angle of 98.23 degree to the equator.Immediately on the successfully ejection of the two satellites, scientists at the mission control were visibly relieved and started clapping.Manmohan Singh, who along with Minister in Prime Minister's Office, V. Narayanasamy, witnessed the launch, congratulated ISRO scientists and engineers and EADS Astrium of France and Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan for the successful launch of their satellites.”

Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space programme and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilised elsewhere.

“This misses the point that a nation's state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess,” the prime minister said.

ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan thanked the scientists and engineers after the launch.

The remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data. The SPOT and Indian remote sensing satellites are the two leading earth observation satellite series.Interestingly, SPOT 6 is the heaviest foreign satellite to be carried by a PSLV rocket since 1999 when ISRO started launching satellites owned by foreign agencies.

Proiteres, the Japanese satellite, intends to study powered flight of a small satellite by an electric thruster and observe Japan's Kansai district with a high-resolution camera.ISRO has been carrying foreign satellites since 1999 initially as an add-on luggage to its own satellite.

It was with Agile, a 350 kg Italian satellite, that ISRO started flying a commercial rocket. Till date, ISRO has launched 27 foreign satellites successfully and the Sunday mission took the tally to 29.


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