India’s first space observatory named Astrosat has been sent off into outer space. The agency responsible for the launch was ISRO.
Astrosat got launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, India today at 10 AM. The objective of India’s first space observatory is the study of space phenomena. The PSLV-C30 is supporting Astrosat along with half a dozen passengers.
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There are two satellites, one from Indonesia and one from Canada too. There is a quatrad of nanosatellites from the United States of America as well. Astrosat, 1513 kg astronomy satellite, makes India a member of the club of elite nations that have space observatories orbiting the earth.
These nations include: the US, Russia, Japan and Europe. The MRR Committee and LAB had held parleys and decided on the launch of PSLV-C30.
The payloads development of the Astrosat was done with the help of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), and Raman Research Institute. Canadian Space Agency and University of Leicester, UK were also involved in the development of two of the payloads.
“There is an exciting possibility to address new investigations in astronomy using our own, largely indigenously-built facility in space,” said P. Sreekumar, director, IIA. “A near-continuous observational capability in space for astronomical studies, complementing existing ground-based facilities.”
Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman AS Kiran Kumar commented on the launch by saying that it was just the beginning. Now information from the space observatory will be available to any researcher in India.
He said, "What it means for India is this: it is one of the first scientific missions which will be available to the Indian researcher community as an observation opportunity. This is a starting point for such things."
Astrosat will last for five years in the harsh conditions of space and it weighs approximately 1513 kg.
“Up to now, Indian scientists can propose for observing time on X-ray telescopes launched by other countries. With the launch of Astrosat, we get our own telescope. Initially, Astrosat will be used completely by Indian scientists and the instrument building team. Eventually, some time will be available for foreign scientists as well,” said Varun Bhalerao, a post-doctoral fellow at IUCAA, who was part of the teams that developed Astrosat.
Meanwhile the other satellites collectively weighed 118 kg. According to ISRO (India Space Research Organization) at least nine more satellites (and nanosatellites) will be launched within a time span of two years.
Four of the US satellites have already been sent off on their journey. Five will also get to go on a ride sometime in the future aboard a bigger spacecraft. The staff members of ISRO were focused on the monitors before them which showed the launch of Astrosat. It was a tense moment.
But it passed by without any glitches in the system. About 22 minutes after takeoff, the rocket flung Astrosat into its orbit. Within 25 minutes the mission had accomplished what it had set out to do.
This happens to be the third time in a row that a PSLV rocket has launched seven satellites into outer space. Seven years ago, 10 satellites were launched by ISRO. India’s Cartosate-2A was one of them.
When the mission went smoothly, the staff gathered at the ground base of ISRO started a round of applause. Up until now India has sent off 45 non-native satellites into space for reasonable sums of money. While Astrosat is not exactly a Hubble Telescope, it reaches the ideals of most Indians.
The Hubble was launched in 1990 by the United States. It cost $2.5 billion and weighed ten times more than Astrosat. Furthermore, the Hubble is still not out of order whereas the Astrosat has a five year guarantee only. Nevertheless it is a start and India will build on this baseline from which it has begun a journey that never ends.
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