India launches weather satellite INSAT-3D
Bangalore: India today successfully launched its advanced meteorological spacecraft INSAT-3D by a European rocket from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana, enhancing the country's capability in weather forecasting and disaster warning fields.
After a smooth countdown lasting 11 hours and 30 minutes, the Ariane-5 launch vehicle of the French commercial space transportation company Arianespace lifted off on schedule at the opening of the launch window at 1.24 AM IST.
The rocket, after a flight of 32 minutes and 48 seconds, placed INSAT-3D in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), very close to the intended one.
Soon after the separation of INSAT-3D from Ariane-5s upper cryogenic stage, the satellite's solar panel automatically got deployed and ISRO's Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of the spacecraft.
Ariane 5 rocket also launched Alphasat, a co-passenger of INSAT-3D and Europes largest telecommunication satellite-ever manufactured.
In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed on INSAT-3D using the satellites own propulsion system to place it in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit, the Bangalore-headquartered ISRO said.
"Preliminary health checks of all the subsystems of INSAT-3D bus were performed and the satellites health is satisfactory," it said.
After placing the satellite at 82 deg East orbital slot, it is planned to turn on the meteorological payloads of INSAT-3D in the second week of next month to extensively test them.
INSAT-3D will add a new dimension to weather monitoring through its atmospheric sounding system, which provides vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere.
"I am happy to inform you that the MCF has already received signals from INSAT-3D," Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) K Radhakrishnan said minutes after the launch.
"We are looking forward to an excellent operational performance of INSAT-3D for the next seven years making a difference for the weather forecasting and disaster warning systems for the country," said Radhakrishnan, also Secretary in the Department of Space.