Today at 03:55 GMT PSLV-XL rocket deployed twenty satellites including spacecrafts created by USA, Germany, Indonesia and Canada. Main payload on atop rocket launched from Launch Pad 2 in Satish Dhawan Space Centre was three Indian satellites: Cartosat-2C-third military optical reconnaissance satellite, SathyabamaSat and Swayam satellites.

Objective of the mission planned for today was Circular Low Earth Orbit with altitude of 500 km and inclination of 97.5°. After deploying satellites it was planned that upper stage of the PSLV will perform second burn to test possibility of changing orbit and ability of upper stage for multiple engine starts. At T-5′ rocket was ready, launch director B. Jayakumar already set mission for “go”; weather was also favorable and it was more than possible, that launch would be performed according to plan.

Rocket performed liftoff at 03:55 GMT-six solid fueled boosters PSOM-XL and first stage with its solid fueled S136 engine begun to work providing 9600 kN. At T+1’10” strap on boosters separated and central core begun its independent flight. At T+1’48” first stage was cut off and separated from the second stage, which started its Vikas liquid fueled engine (N2O/UDMH) providing 799 kN of thrust just fraction of second later. At T+2’34” payload fairing was separated and after one minute at T+4′ 21″ second stage and third stage separated on altitude of 216 km. Third stage started its HPS3 solid fueled with HTPB engine, which begun to provide 240 kN of thrust. At T+6′ third stage was shut down; rocket started phase of ballistic flight until T+8’10” when third stage and fourth stage separated. Next fourth stage ignited its two L-2-5 engines (fueled with MMH/MON ad providing thrust at 15.2 kN). At T+16’27” fourth stage was cut off and rocket was ready for deploying satellites. Satellites were deployed in following ordnance:

  • Cartosat-2C-imaging military satellite designed by ISRO and equipped in panchromatic camera for scene-specific black and white pictures suitable for cartography. Deployed at T+17’12”.
  • Sathyabama-Indian satellite designed on Sathyabama University for measuring level of Greenhouse Gas with utilization of ARGUS 1000 IR Spectrometer, satellite weighs 1.5 kg. Deployed at T+17’42”.
  • Swayam-Indian 1U sized Cubesat satellite designed by students of the College of Engineering, Pune (COEP) for testing new technologies in communications on picosat platform- deployed at T+17’43”.
  • Lapan-A3-Indonesian Earth monitoring satellite utilizing multispectral camera along with Video camera. Equipped with star tracker and AIS and APRS to serve as support for global maritime and HAM community. Deployed at T+18’18”.
  • BIROS (Berlin InfraRed Optical System)-German fire detection satellite build by Kayser-Threde GmbH (prime contractor) and Astrofein (provider of TET-1 bus). Operated by DLR will utilize two cameras and two infrared imaging devices combined with OSIRIS (Optical Space Infrared Downlink System)-special laser data downlink system by DLR. Satellite weight is 130 kg and it will remain operational for at least 3 years. Deployed at T+18’20”.
  • M3MSat-Canadian research satellite designed by COM DEV International Ltd. under contract which was financed by Defense Research and Development Canada (DRDC) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Satellite with weight of 95 kg is based on Multi-Mission Micro-Satellite bus. It will test new communication system based on AIS (Automatic Identification System) technology-system which is using signals send by every ship or vessel for navigation and identification. With support of satellite, system will bring detailed and precision image of current state of global shipping traffic. Deployed at T+18’57”.
  • SkySat-C1 is weighing 120 kg Earth imaging satellite operated by Skybox Imaging. It will provide high resolution panchromatic and multispectral images of the Earth from polar orbit with altitude of 450 km. It is utilizing Ritchey-Chretien Cassegrain telescope (FL 3.6 m) combined with 3 CMOS sensors, each with size of 2560 × 2160 pixels. Satellite was designed by SSL and will remain on orbit for at least 5 years. Deployed at T+18’58”
  • GHGSat-D is satellite owned by Canadian company GHGSat Inc. Designed and built on University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) weighs 15 kg and is based on Nemo-V1 bus. It will be monitoring level of greenhouse gas. It is equipped with SWIR imaging spectrometer for detailed observation of large GHG emitters like water tanks, landfills or stacks. Satellite is powered by solar arrays providing 80 W of power. Deployed at T+19’50”
  • 12 Flock-2P satellites-these small satellites were designed and are operated by Planet Labs Company. They are imaging spacecrafts with weight at 5 kg and equipped with high resolution CCD camera with Bayer-mask filter installed and combined with telescope. CCD resolution is 11 MP or 29 MP in most recent version of Flock what gives imaging resolution from 3 m to 5 m. Operational life of satellite varies depending on designated orbit where satellites were deployed, but in general it is not exceeding 3 years.

PSLV-XL is extended version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle which was developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in the beginning of the nineties with maiden flight of on 20 September 1993. PSLV-XL was upgraded with larger (height is 13.5 m with diameter at 1 m) six strap-on boosters each able to store 30% more fuel (12200 kg) than regular boosters of PSLV. Rocket with length at 44 m weighs 320 t at start (comparing to 295 t of PSLV-G). Central core has four stages: first stage (with mass at 138200 kg, diameter at 2.8 m and length of 20 m) is powered by solid fueled (HTPB) S139 engine with 4800 kN of thrust. Second stage (weight at 24000 kg, diameter at 2.8 m and long for 12.8 m) is equipped with one Vikas engine liquid fueled with N2O4/UDMH and providing 799 kN of thrust. Third stage (mass at 7600 kg, diameter at 2 m and length of 3.6 m) is solid fueled with single HPS3 engine which generates 240 kN of thrust. Fourth stage is powered by two L-2-5 engines with thrust at 15.2 kN fueled with liquid MMH/MON propellant and weighs 2500 kg while its length is at 3 m and diameter at 1.3 m. PSLV XL is able to lift up to 1425 kg to GTO orbit.