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India launches Cartosat-2E, 30 small satellites atop 40th PSLV rocket

The Indian Space Research Organisation launched a PSLV-XL rocket with the CartoSat-2 satellite, along with 30 other smaller spacecraft, June 23, 2017. Photo Credit: ISRO

The Indian Space Research Organisation launched a PSLV-XL rocket with the CartoSat-2 satellite, along with 30 other smaller spacecraft, June 23, 2017. Photo Credit: ISRO

Lifting off just before midnight EDT (03:59 GMT) June 23, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket sent CartoSat-2E and 30 smaller satellites into space. The 40th launch of the PSLV placed all the spacecraft in a polar orbit some 300 miles (500 kilometers) in altitude.

Photo Credit: ISRO

Photo Credit: ISRO

The rocket launched out of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island off the east coast of India. The local time was 9:29 a.m. and the weather was mostly sunny.

Standing 144 feet (44 meters) tall, the PSLV is a four-stage rocket. For the PSLV-C38 mission, the rocket was in the XL configuration, meaning it used six extended strap-on solid-fueled rocket motors around the core of the first stage.

The first stage the S139 solid rocket booster. Along with the strap-on boosters, the first phase of the flight produces some 2 million pounds-force (9,000 kilonewtons) of sea level thrust.

At liftoff, four of the six boosters were lit along with the core stage. Some 25 seconds in, the remaining two were lit, as planned.

Just over a minute into flight, the four ground-lit boosters were jettisoned. The remaining two separated some 20 seconds later.

One minute, 50 seconds after launch, the core stage burned out and separated from the second stage.

Stage two is powered by a single Vikas engine that consumes nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine. It burned for about 158 seconds. The payload fairing jettisoned at 2 minutes, 38 seconds into the mission.

Once the second stage was depleted and separated, around 4.5 minutes into the flight, the solid-fueled third stage HPS3 motor took over. It burned for about 83 seconds before falling away.

Finally, the fourth stage, powered by two L-2-5 engines consuming a monomethylhydrazine/nitrogen fuel mix, burned for about seven minutes before reaching orbit.

Sixteen minutes, 40 seconds after leaving India, Cartosat-2E separated. Over the next five minutes, the other small CubeSats deployed as well.

Cartosat-2E is an Earth-imaging satellite designed to observe cities, crops, and natural disasters for Indian civil and military authorities. The 1,500-pound (712-kilogram) satellite deployed its solar panels not long after separation to begin charging the spacecraft’s batteries and begin its mission.

While Cartosat-2E was the primary satellite, 30 other smaller vehicles were also deployed. The 33-pound (15-kilogram) NIUSAT satellite was the first of the secondary spacecraft to be deployed. Developed by students at Noorul Islam University, it will monitor agriculture. The other 29 CubeSats were deployed soon after and were from various companies and universities.

This was the fourth Indian launch of the year and third since May 5. The last flight came just 18 days ago, matching the fastest turnaround time between launches for the ISRO.

Video courtesy of SciNews



Derek Richardson has a degree in mass media, with an emphasis in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While at Washburn, he was the managing editor of the student run newspaper, the Washburn Review. He also has a website about human spaceflight called Orbital Velocity. You can find him on twitter @TheSpaceWriter.

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