The countdown for the November 7 launch of the Indian rocket, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C49 (PSLV-C49), carrying the country's radar imaging satellite and nine other foreign satellites began at 1.02 pm, said the Indian space agency. According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the 26-hour countdown for the rocket launch began at 1.02 pm on Friday.
The rocket with 10 satellites is scheduled to lift-off from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 3.02 pm on Saturday, ISRO said. The proposed launch will be the first space mission for ISRO from India in 2020.
On January 17, 2020, India's telecommunication satellite 3,357 kg GSAT-30 -- a replacement for INSAT-4A -- was successfully launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) from Kourou launch base in French Guyana by an Ariane rocket.
The primary passenger of the 44.5 metre tall PSLV-C49 will be the Indian radar imaging satellite EOS-01 (formerly RISAT-2BR2) with synthetic aperture radar (SAR) that can shoot pictures in all weather conditions. The satellite can take pictures day and night and will be useful for surveillance as well as civilian activities.
The nine foreign satellites that would piggyback are from: Lithuania (1-technology demonstrator), Luxembourg (4 maritime application satellites by Kleos Space) and the US (4-Lemur multi mission remote sensing satellites).
If all goes well with the Saturday evening rocketing of PSLV-C49 then the Indian space agency would have slung a total of 328 foreign satellites, all for a fee.
This time around, the ISRO will be using the PSLV rocket's DL variant that will have two strap-on booster motors. This rocket variant was used the first time to put the Microsat R satellite into orbit on January 24, 2019.
The PSLV is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively with six booster motors strapped on to the first stage to give higher thrust during the initial flight moments.
After PSLV-C49, the next one to fly will be PSLV-C50 with the GSAT-12R satellite. It will fly from the second launch pad, S. Somanath, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), had told IANS earlier. "We are targeting PSLV-C50 sometime in December. It needs about 30 days to get ready for another launch after one launch," Somanath had said.
The other Indian satellites that are ready for launch are GISAT, Microsat-2A and GSAT-12R. The launch of the GISAT-1 satellite slated for March 5 this year was postponed due to technical reasons a day before the launch.
"The GISAT-1 satellite will be carried by a GSLV rocket. The GSLV rocket was dismantled after the launch was called off. The rocket is being refurbished. The rocket's cryogenic engine has been brought down and it is being readied again," Somanath had said. According to him, the GSLV carrying GISAT-1 is expected to fly after PSLV-C50.
Somanath also said that the ISRO has developed a Virtual Launch Control Centre to test the rocket systems at the rocket port in Sriharikota remotely from the Thiruvananthapuram-based VSSC.
"With Covid-19 pandemic prevailing, the Indian space agency in order to reduce the number of people travelling to Sriharikota, has developed a Virtual Launch Control Centre at VSSC. As a result, the testing of various rocket systems is being done at VSSC," Somanath had told IANS.
The physical launch control centre is located in the building, housing the Mission Control Centre in Sriharikota and the systems there have been replicated at the VSSC in the form of a virtual launch control centre.