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PSLV-C16 rocket launched

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India recently successfully launched its PSLV-C16 rocked that carried into orbit the latest remote pslv 16sensing satellite REsourcesat-2 that would study and help manage natural resources along with two Nano satellites, YOUTHSAT and XSAT. The PSLV has an impressive track record of 16 uninterrupted launches. This is the 18th launch and 17th successive flight of PSLV by ISRO.

India’s objective behind the launch of PSLV C-16: The 1,206 kg Resourcesat-2 with a space life of five years replaces Resourcesat-1 launched in 2003 and would provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage on natural resources.The 1206 kg Resourscesat-2 with three high resolution cameras on a single platform would capture images that will be useful in assessing the health of crops, monitoring deforestation and water levels in reservoirs and lakes besides the snow-melt in the Himalayas. Youthsat, weighing 92 kg is a joint Indo-Russian Nano satellite for stellar and atmospheric studies. Youthsat comes in the category of mini satellites and it is the second in the Indian Mini Satellite (IMS) series. Youthsat mission intends to investigate the relationship between solar variability and thermosphere-Ionosphere changes. The satellite carries three payloads, of which two are Indian and one Russian. Together, they form a unique and comprehensive package of experiments for the investigation of the composition, energetics and dynamics of earth’s upper atmosphere. The third satellite X-sat, weighing 106 kg, is an image applications spacecraft built by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. This is the first time; ISRO is launching a Singapore-built satellite X-SAT mission mainly intends to demonstrate technologies related to satellite based remote sensing and on-board image processing.

New changes: The major changes made in PSLV since its first launch include changes in strap-on motors ignition sequence, increase in the propellant loading of the first stage and strap-on solid propellant motors as well as the second and fourth stage liquid propellant motors, improvement in the performance of the third stage motor by optimising motor case and enhanced propellant loading and employing a carbon composite payload adapter.

Latest: The health of YOUTHSAT is normal. The two Indian payloads viz. Limb Viewing Hyperspectral Imager (LiVHySI) and Radio Beacon for Ionospheric Tomography (RaBIT) have been switched on. Payload data from YOUTHSAT is being processed at the Indian Space Science Data Centre at Bylalu, (near Bangalore).

About Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle: The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is a four stage launch vehicle that uses solid and liquid propulsion system alternatively. It is an expendable launch system developed and operated by ISRO. It was developed to launch Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites into sun synchronous orbits, a service that was, until the advent of the PSLV, commercially viable only from Russia. PSLV can also launch small size satellites into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). The PSLV has launched 41 satellites (19 Indian and 22 from other countries) into a variety of orbits to date.The PSLV is designed and developed at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala). The PSLV had its first launch on 20 September 1993. Although all main engines performed as expected, an altitude control problem was reported in the second and third stages and thus the inaugural mission failed. PSLV C-16 was the 18th PSLV.

Understanding the difference between the PSLV and GSLV:-

Both PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and GSLV are (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) are Indian space launch vehicles used to launch satellites into polar orbit and geosynchronous orbits respectively. The PSLV can launch satellites into sun synchronous orbits i. e. in such a way that an object on that orbit passes over any given point of the Earth’s surface at the same local solar time. The GSLV launch satellites into geostationary orbit. Geostationary orbits cause a satellite to appear stationary with respect to a fixed point on the rotating Earth. That is, if we are standing directly below a geosynchronous satellite it would always be directly above us.  The PSLV is a four-stage launch vehicle with the first stage being solid-propelled, the second liquid-propelled and third solid and the final stage cryogenic liquid. The GSLV is a three-stage launch vehicle with the first stage being solid-propelled, the second liquid-propelled and the final stage being cryogenically propelled.

During 1994-2010 period, PSLV has launched a total of 44 satellites, of which 25 satellites are from abroad and 19 are Indian satellites.

Other important launch:

  1. PSLV-C16 launched RESOUR-CESAT - 2, YOUTHSAT and X-SAT on April 20, 2011 (Successful).
  2. PSLV-C15 launched CARTOSAT-2B, ALSAT-2A, NLS 6.1 & 6.2 and STUDSAT on July 12, 2010 (Successful)
  3. PSLV-C14 launched Oceansat - 2 and Six Nanosatellites on September 23, 2009 (Successful).
  4. PSLV-C12 launched RISAT-2 and ANUSAT on April 20, 2009 (Successfully).
  5. PSLV-C11 launched CHANDRAY-AAN-I, on October 22, 2008 (Successful).
  6. PSLV-C9 launched CARTOSAT-2A, IMS-1 and Eight nano-satellites on April 28, 2008 (Successful).
  7. PSLV-C10 launched TECSAR on January 23, 2008 (Successful).
  8. PSLV-C8 launched AGILE on April 23, 2007 (Successful).
  9. PSLV-C7 launched CARTOSAT-2, SRE-1, LAPAN-TUBSAT and PEHUENSAT-1 on January 10, 2007 (Successful).
  10. PSLV-C6 launched CARTOSAT-1 and HAMSAT on May 5, 2005 (Successful).
  11. PSLV-C5 launched RESOURC-ESAT-1(IRS-P6) on October 17, 2003 (Successful).
  12. PSLV-C4 launched KALPANA-1(METSAT) on September 12, 2002 (Successful).
  13. PSLV-C3 launched TES on October 22, 2001 (Successful).
  14. PSLV-C2 launched OCEANSAT  (IRS-P4), KITSAT-3 and DLR-TUBSAT on May 26, 1999 (Successful).
  15. PSLV-C1 launched IRS-1D on September 29, 1997 (Successful).
  16. PSLV-D3 launched IRS-P3 on March 21, 1996 (Successful).
  17. PSLV-D2 launched IRS-P2 on October 15, 1994 (Successful).
  18. PSLV-D1 launched IRS-1E on September 20, 1993 (Unsuccessful).


16th consecutive successful mission
The PSLV C15, the 44.4 metre-tall four-stage PSLV-C-15, costing Rs 260 crore, carried five satellites including India’s advanced remote sensing Cartosat 2B, Alsat from Algeria, two satellites from universities in Canada and Switzerland and one small satellite built by a consortium of seven engineering colleges from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The PSLV-C15 launch has revived the confidence of ISRO as space agency’s indigenous cryogenic engine development programme saw a setback after the failure of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) D3.
Cartosat-2B is the 17th in a series of advanced remote sensing satellites, will be used for Land Information System and Geographical Information System, is built by ISRO. Cartosat-2B carries a panchromatic camera similar to that of its predecessors - Cartosat-2 and 2A and was capable of imaging a swath (geographical strip of land) of 9.6 km with a resolution of 0.8 metre. Alsat from Algeria, weighing 116 kg, is also a remote sensing satellite. The two nano satellites, NLS 6.1 and NLS 6.2, weigh six kg and one kg each. Studsat weighs less than one kg.  The Student satellite with a CMOS camera in it and four small solar panels mounted on it to generate energy for orbiting over the next 12 months. The complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) is a chip that holds data without external power source. The satellite’s life has been set at 5 years. Besides launching 17 Indian satellites, PSLV, described as a workhorse of ISRO, has placed in orbit 22 foreign satellites between 1994 and 2009.


1. The presence of the pico satellite Studsat built by the consortium marks the entry of students into high technology, so far a realm of the ISRO and big commercial houses. The success has demonstrated that students can contribute to technology development within the country and called for a reorientation in the mindset which will help them to experiment, innovate and turn into entrepreneurs.
2. The multiple spot scene imagery sent by Cartosat-2B camera would also be useful for village/cadastral level resource assessment and mapping, detailed urban and infrastructure planning and development, transportation system planning, preparation of large-scale cartographic maps, preparation of micro watershed development plans and monitoring of development works of village.
3.  It is a highly equipped remote sensing satellite which will boost the activities like canal alignment, coastal land form, monitoring of mines, gathering data regarding the geography of country, forest statistics etc. Besides this mapping and monitoring of coral reefs, mangroves and mining activities can also be made.
4. With the launch of Cartosat-2B, the IRS family has been enlarged to include IRS-P4 (Oceansat-1); the experimental TES, Resourcesat-1; Cartosat-1; Cartosat-2; Cartosat-2A, IMS-1, radar imaging satellite RISAT-2 and Oceansat-2. This has made the IRS the world’s largest civilian Earth observation constellation used for various developmental applications.
ISRO has announced it would launch two more vehicles this year and said preparation for the unmanned moon mission in 2013 and a manned flight anywhere between 2015 to 2020 was in full swing with the setting up of one more launch pad. Manned space flights will require another launch pad which the ISRO has projected will cost it Rs 1,000 crore (US$220 million). In the next three months, ISRO will launch GSLV-F06, which will carry GSAT-5, a communication satellite and PSLV-C16 that has carried ‘Resourcesat2’ a remote sensing satellite. PSLV-C16 has carried an advance sensor satellite to provide multi-spectral data at different resolutions.