February 25, 2013
Monday Morning India Space Launch To Deploy First Canadian Military Satellite
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The first Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launch of 2013 — and the organization´s 101st such mission overall — is scheduled to take place Monday morning, as a four-stage rocket will carry a payload of seven satellites into space, according to various media reports.
On Sunday evening, an unidentified ISRO official told the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) the countdown was progressing smoothly and on schedule, and the fueling of the second stage of the rocket was scheduled to take place later that night and would be completed prior to early Monday morning.
The 145-foot tall Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C20 (PSLV-C20) rocket will weigh nearly 230 metric tons when it blasts off, the news agency said. It will carry one Indo-French satellite as well as six of international origin. The entire flight sequence, from lift-off to the release of all seven satellites, will take approximately 22 minutes in all, IANS reporters noted.
“The successful launch of the satellites will take ISRO's tally of launching foreign satellites to 35. ISRO started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket,” they added. “Since then India has been successful in launching medium-weight satellites for overseas agencies. Initially ISRO started carrying third-party satellite atop PSLC rockets as co-passengers of its own remote sensing/earth observation satellites.”
According to Peter Rakobowchuk of The Canadian Press, two of the satellites that the ISRO vehicle will be transporting are Canadian. They are the NEOSSat (Near-Earth Object Surveillance Satellite), which will monitor a specific type of near-Earth asteroid, and the Sapphire surveillance probe, which will be the first military satellite ever launched into orbit by the North American nation.
“NEOSSat, which was built by Microsat Systems Canada, was jointly funded by the Canadian Space Agency and DRDC (Defence Research and Development Canada),” Rakobowchuk said. “The $15 million suitcase-sized satellite, which will circle about 800 kilometers above the Earth every 100 minutes, is the first space telescope dedicated to looking for potentially hazardous asteroids.”
As for Sapphire, he explains the satellite “will be used to support Canadian and international military operations and well as bilateral commitments such as NORAD.” It will also “contribute to the United States Space Surveillance Network, which currently tracks more than 22,000 pieces of space debris larger than 10 centimeters,” Rakobowchuk added, and the data it collects once it enters polar synchronous orbit nearly 500 miles above the Earth´s surface “will be used to warn satellite operators of potential collisions as a result of space debris.”