The Indian space agency ISRO launched eight satellites from one rocket into two different orbits. This is certainly a complex mission and the longest one. The 37th Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV took off from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh today.
This launch was challenging as the satellites will have to land in two different orbits. This sort of twin-orbit manoeuvre was recently accomplished by European Space Agency's Vega rocket.
"This is a challenging two-in-one mission which puts India in a unique league of nations having the capability to achieve two different orbits in a single mission," said ISRO Chairman Dr AS Kiran Kumar, reported by NDTV.
After 17 minutes of the launch, the PSLV should drop off the Indian weather satellite SCATSAT at an altitude of 730 km. After this, 7 remaining satellites will be dropped at another height of 689 km.
The mission will test PSLV's multiple burn capability and will set a new milestone for ISRO. The whole procedure is expected to be completed within 2 hours and 15 minutes -- the longest mission undertaken by ISRO.
The stop-start of the rocket, while travelling at a speed of more than 2660 kmph, positions PSLV as a unique launcher in the multi-billion dollar commercial launch market.
The three Indian satellites include the earth observing satellite SCATSAT-1 and two others made by students to give them a hands-on experience in space technology.
The SCATSAT, costing about Rs. 120 crore, will help weather scientists forecast the formation of cyclones and monitor their land fall. India shares such data with the US, which helped them track Hurricane Sandy in 2012.