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Indian rocket launches seven satellites into polar orbit

On Monday 25th of February 2013 the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle sat on the pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centers’ First Launch Pad with seven satellites inside its protective nose fairing. At 1231 UTC the all the rockets systems checked out and the first stage of the four stage rocket ignited sending the booster soaring into the Indian sky.

The PSLV payload was seven satellites, all small in size but important to their operators all the same. All seven satellites are confirmed operational by their operators at this time.

Some of the notable satellites that were deployed are:

– TUGSAT-1, the first Austrian satellite –  Due to investigate  the brightness oscillations of massive luminous stars by differential photometry.

– The Canadian Space Agency’s NEOSSat, the first space telescope dedicated to discovering near earth objects and to plot their movement.

– AAUSAT3 is the third CubeSat built and operated by students from Aalborg University in Denmark. The primary purpose of construction of satellites at Aalborg University is to give the students engineering capabilities beyond what is normally achieved within a masters program.

-From the UK STRaND-1, dubbed as the “Worlds first smartphone satellite” as it operated by a Google Nexus One phone running the Android mobile operating system. It was developed at Surrey Space Center (University of Surrey) and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Rewatch Now: From T-85 Seconds until T+170 seconds of the PSLC-C20 launch

Video captured from ISRO webcast on February 25th 2013

The PSLV was designed by India to avoid having to use Russian launch services to get their craft into sun synchronous orbits and to date has launched about 55 craft (satellites & probes) successfully. To get into orbit the PSLV-CA (core only – no external boosters and carrying a slightly reduced payload) uses a four stage system that uses alternating fuel sources for each stage, alternating between solid fuel and liquid fuel to achieve the best efficiency at different altitudes.

The first stage is a solid booster that uses Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) as fuel to produce 4,860 kN of thrust for 105 seconds. After stage separation the first liquid fuelled stage ignites. The second stage uses a single Vikas liquid engine that burns Dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and produces 725 kN of thrust for 158 seconds.

The third stage is another HTPB fueled solid stage that produces 328 kN of thrust for 294 seconds taking the fourth stage and payloads out of the atmosphere where the fourth stage ignites. The fourth stage uses a twin engine configuration using Mono-Methyl Hydrazine (MMH) as fuel and Mixed Oxides of Nitrogen (MON) as oxidizer. The twin engine configuration produces 14.8 kN of thrust (7.4 kN per engine) and has enough fuel to burn for 425 seconds. The engines are gimballed for pitch, yaw & roll control and for control during the coast phase uses on-off reaction control thrusters.

Article Main Image: PSLV-C20 first stage ignition at Satish Dhawan Space Center. Photo credit ISRO @

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About The Author
Chris Trudgen
I am a Freelance Photographer from the South West UK with a passion for space, particularly the rockets that take us there. When I am not doing my day job I am reading up on the engineering used in rocket design and most likely playing Kerbal Space Program while doing so.

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