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Indian Space Rocket Blasts Off With Two Satellites

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
by Bhagwan Singh
Sriharikota, India (AFP) May 05, 2005
An Indian rocket blasted off Thursday, carrying the country's ambitions to be a major global space power and two satellites that it launched into orbit.

The liftoff in southeastern India marked the first time India has launched a rocket with two satellites aboard and notched up another achievement in its ambitious space programme to send a probe to the moon by 2007 or 2008.

The launch "augments our launch capabilities considerably and reaffirms the emergence of India as a major space power," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament in New Delhi.

The 44-metre (147-foot) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle carried a remote sensing satellite whose detailed imaging is aimed at putting every Indian household on the map and another for South Asian home radio operators that can be used during disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

The rocket lifted off from the Satish Dhawan space port, 100 kilometresmiles) north of Madras, to loud cheers from scientists and their families who watched the rocket streak into a clear blue sky.

"It was a fantastically accurate flight and (satellite) injection," G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Bangalore-based Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), told reporters.

The satellites were placed into orbit soon after lift-off.

President Abdul Kalam, a scientist dubbed India's "missile man" for his contribution to the country's satellite programmes, guided and ballistic missiles projects and nuclear weapons drive, watched the launch.

"We are all proud of you," Kalam told scientists.

Singh later sent a message to scientists at the space centre that "you are preparing India to take to the 21st century in terms of advancements in science and technology".

It was the heaviest payload ever carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, a version of which is planned for use by India's debut moon mission.

On the launch's eve, space scientists placed tiny replicas of the rocket and the two satellites at a Hindu shrine and prayed for the mission's success.

The biggest satellite, the 1.5-ton CARTOSAT-1, will supply high-resolution pictures for more precise maps for planning towns, laying new roads, digging canals, disaster assessment and water resources management.

Among CARTOSAT's special features are two cameras that will provide stereo pictures to generate three-dimensional maps. Until now, Indian mapmakers have relied on combining satellite data to create three dimensional maps.

The cameras are designed to read images smaller than a car by identifying features down to 2.5 metres (eight foot four inches) wide.

The smaller 42.5-kilogram (94-pound) HAMSAT communications satellite will provide ultra-high and very-high radio frequencies to broaden bandwidth that Indian home operators had been seeking for years.

India has grabbed headlines with its commitment to send a probe to the moon in two or three years time. But its space programme has mainly been aimed at harnessing high technology for its population of more than one billion, particularly its rural masses.

The CARTOSAT-1 is India's 11th remote-sensing satellite on top of several broadcast satellites. India's other remote sensing satellites supply information for use in irrigation, agriculture and disaster management.

India has the world's biggest civilian cluster of remote sensing satellites.

Thursday's blast-off was the second since September when India launched Edusat, a distance learning satellite to allow teachers to broadcast primary and secondary classes to remote regions via television.

All rights reserved. � 2004 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse. Related Links
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Indian Space Rocket Readies To Blast-Off With Two Satellites
Sriharikota, India (AFP) May 02, 2005
An Indian space rocket is scheduled to blast off this week to put two satellites into orbit that will help the country's map makers and amateur radio operators, an official said Monday.

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