Chennai: The 'core-alone' configuration of ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) seems to have attracted immediate international attention, with an Israeli observation satellite, Polaris, heading for an early launch in August this year. The satellite, weighing 300 kg, can take pictures of the earth through cloud and rain, 24 hours of the day.
On Monday, the core-alone configured PSLV-C8 lifted off successfully from Sriharikota to put an Italian satellite, Agile, into orbit.
In its normal set up, the PSLV has six strap-on booster motors around the first stage. The core-alone version discards these boosters as they are meant to put higher payloads into orbit.
The PSLV is a four-stage vehicle that is 44 metres tall and weighs 295 tonnes. The core-alone version sheds about 65 tonnes, and weighs in at 230 tonnes.
Meanwhile, ISRO has also bagged another contract from Israel. An Israeli ultra-violet astronomy telescope will travel on board the indigenously developed GSLV (Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) from Sriharikota in 2008. The GSLV launch is slated to carry the Indian GSAT-4 satellite. The Israeli ultra-violet astronomy telescope is called TAUVEX (Tel Aviv University Ultra-violet Experiment.)
It would appear that the space agency's marketing arm, Antrix Corporation, has found another client for the core-alone version. A year-end launch, slated to carry an Indian satellite Cartosat-2A into orbit, will also let a cluster of six micro-satellites from Canada piggyback on the same launch. Together, these six micro-satellites will weigh only 26 kg. The Cartosat-2A will be used for mapping purposes.
These confirmations come on the back of an announcement by ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair, immediately after Monday's successful PSLV launch, that ISRO was planning three more year end launches.
"We are targeting a re-launch of the GSLV, which failed last year, one PSLV with Cartosat and hopefully another commercial launch in the PSLV."