On 16th December 2015, PSLV C-29 has put into orbit 6 satellites from Singapore. This was a purely commercial flight.
This is a landmark launch for several reasons:
This is the 50th launch of a large rocket from Sriharikota centre.
Till now India has put into orbit 57 foreign satellites successfully.
This was the 31st consecutive successful launch of PSLV.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is a four stage rocket which can launch payloads up to 1.5 tonnes.
In this particular commercial launch of Singaporean satellites, ISRO has also experimented the re-ignition of engine in the fourth stage, which was successful.
ISRO has used PSLV for launching Mangalyaan, Chandrayaan and various satellites into Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit.
There are two versions of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV), which is our larger launch vehicle (GSLV Mk-I and Mk-II). GSLV Mark-II uses indigenously developed cryogenic engine. In GSLV Mark-III, the cryogenic engine part was not yet tested, but the atmospheric part was tested successfully. In times to come, India is going to launch satellites from GSLV Mark-III, which will become India’s indigenously built mainstay rocket.
The GSLV rocket has completed its development stage and now deployment phase will start. Once it is deployed, the commercial community should gain confidence in its current version (Mark-II) that it will do well. GSLV Mark-II has been dubbed “Naughty Boy” for its failures. The next likely mission to be taken using GSLV Mark-II would be “Chandrayaan-II”, sometime in 2017 probably. It will have an orbiter, a lander, and a rover. Chandrayaan-I was an international mission in which India had played the role of captain. It is in the Chandrayaan-I mission that water molecules on moon were found for the first time.
India and America are jointly making a satellite called NISAR, which is a radar satellite, likely to be launched in 2020.
Govt is spending close to $1 billion per year on ISRO. The returns from this investment are enormous. Television channels, ATM services, disaster warning systems, remote sensing systems, commercial launches for other countries and many such services add immense value to our lives. It took $670 millions for America to launch a satellite to Mars. India did it at just $67 millions, that too in the very first attempt, which no other country on the planet could do.
There was a time when America was not willing to share cryogenic technology with India. Now, it is handshaking with India to jointly launch satellites. Thus, ISRO was put on a big league at a global level. Even the South East Asian countries like Singapore are coming to ISRO to launch experimental satellites at cheap costs. Towards the end of next year, the “SAARC satellite” is going to be launched. The satellite is for secure communication purpose during the times of disaster and also for ministerial communication among the SAARC members.
There are also plans to undertake missions to Venus and Sun (Aditya). It is going to be very exciting time for ISRO. At present India has reached a self sufficient position is space launches. It has to look forward now for launching astronauts into space.