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India To Launch Latest Space Rocket

A CARTOSAT class satellite.
by Staff Writers
Bangalore, India (AFP) Jan 09, 2007
India will launch a rocket into outer space Wednesday carrying four payloads including a capsule recovery experiment meant for future manned missions, top officials said Monday. The Indian Space Research Organisation said the rocket will also put into orbit a 680-kilogramme (1,496 pound) remote sensing satellite named CARTOSAT-2, along with an Indonesian earth observation satellite and another one from Argentina.

"Preparations are going on as planned," Madhavan Nair, chief of the space agency told AFP. "The formal countdown has started today for the January 10 launch which is fixed at 9:23 a.m. (around 0353 GMT)."

"The main focus is on the CARTOSAT which is fitted with high resolution cameras, and on the space recovery project. This is the first time we are planning to bring back a space capsule to earth after launching it," Nair said.

"A lot of new technologies have gone into it. It will perform experiments in microgravity conditions and then it will be de-orbited and recovered from a precise landing spot. This technology will help us in future manned missions," he said.

Nair said the 550-kilogramme capsule, which will be in orbit between 13 and 30 days before it splashes down in the Bay of Bengal, 140 kilometers (89 miles) east of Sriharikota from where the rocket is slated to blast-off.

Sriharikota is on the coast of India's southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Indian space officials have said they hoped to send an unmanned probe to the moon in the next three years and the space agency needed to test its re-entry and recovery technology.

The space agency also said last month that it planned to send an unmanned mission to Mars by 2013 to look for evidence of life.

The 44-meter Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle will carry the four payloads.

The CARTOSAT-2 is the twelfth in the Indian remote sensing satellite series and is the most advanced.

Mission Director N. Narayana Moorthy said data created by the satellite, with a life span of five years, will be used for planning rural and urban development.

"The satellite can spot objects on the ground measuring about a metre," Moorthy said.

In July last year a deep space rocket carrying India's heaviest satellite disintegrated in a fiery plume of smoke and flames seconds after lift-off dealing a blow to the country's ambitious space programme.

India's Space Research Organisation Critics has a budget of 36 billion rupees (850 million dollars) allotted by the government and also receives payment for launching satellites from other nations.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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