This was the 15th successful flight of the launch vehicle in a row. The first PSLV flight took place on September 20, 1993.
Spectacular mission It was a spectacular mission. Everything went all right for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as the countdown was smooth and the lift-off perfect at the appointed time of 11.51 a.m.
Then the first stage of the PSLV-C14 came alive and the vehicle galvanised itself as it climbed into the sky. The three other stages too ignited and separated on time and the satellites were precisely injected into orbit.
18-minute flight At the end of 18 minutes of flight, the PSLV’s fourth stage injected Oceansat-2 into orbit at a velocity of 25,000 km an hour at an altitude of about 728 km. Thereafter, spring-loaded action mechanisms catapulted four nano satellites called Cubesat 1, 2, 3 and 4 into orbit one after the other. The other two nano satellites, Rubinsat 9.1 and 9.2, remained attached to the fourth stage. It implies that the fourth stage went into orbit.
“The PSLV is like a wine. With age, it only improves,” said ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair. He called the launch mission “a fantastic achievement” and “a thrilling moment for the ISRO team.”
During the countdown, there was a leak in the vehicle’s reaction control package. A team led by M.Y.S. Prasad, Range Operations Director, immediately rectified the anomaly, Mr. Nair said.
Recalling the PSLV’s first flight, Mr. Nair said: “Unfortunately, we failed [on that day]. Since then, we have not looked back. The next 15 launches have been successful…which gives us the greatest joy.”
Director of ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore T.K. Alex said the satellite’s solar panels had been deployed. A ground station at Antarctica had tracked it. The spacecraft, which was built at the centre, was pointing towards the earth in the right direction. The satellite was in normal health.
While two of Oceansat-2’s three payloads were designed and developed by the Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, the third one came from Italy.
SAC Director R.R. Navalgund said the satellite would provide data about plant life in the oceans. It would help in locating schools of fish and monitoring algal blooms that were harmful to fish life. It would also help in forecasting weather and providing information on cyclones.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari witnessed the launch.