Indian rocket carrying navigation satellite blasts off
An Indian rocket carrying the country's second navigation satellite - IRNSS-1B - Friday blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here in Andhra Pradesh.
Exactly at 5.14 p.m., the rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C24 (PSLV-C24) standing around 44.4 metres tall and weighing around 320 tonnes - tore into the evening sky with orange flames fiercely burning at its tail.
The space centre is around 80 km north of Chennai.
Space scientists and other invitees at Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) rocket mission control room intently watched the rocket's progress as it escaped the earth's gravitational pull.
ISRO officials are hoping that the agency's crucial space mission will turn out to be a grand success.
The rocket is expected to sling its only luggage, the 1,432 kg IRNSS-1B (Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System), into the space around 20 minutes after the blast-off.
India is expected to have its own satellite navigation system with four satellites in the space before the end of this year, ISRO chairman K.Radhakrishnan told IANS earlier.
According to Radhakrishnan, though the IRNSS is a seven-satellite system, it could be made operational with four satellites.
The two more navigation satellites will be launched during the second half of 2014. The first one - IRNSS-1A - was launched July 2013.
India began its space journey in 1975 with the launch of Aryabhatta using a Russian rocket and till date, it has completed over 100 space missions, including missions to the moon and Mars.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted email@example.com)
(Posted on 04-04-2014)