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India to launch three satellites in September 2012

The 800-kg SPOT-6 built by Astrium SAS will be the heaviest third party payload that ISRO will be carrying after the 350-kg Italian satellite, Agile, it put into orbit in 2007.

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Artist’s rendition of Spot-6 – the French satellite

India will launch three satellites in September and two more by the end of this year, said a senior official in Chennai.

“We will be launching Spot-6, a French satellite and a small Japanese satellite on board PSLV-C21 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) rocket, next month,” P.S. Veeraraghavan, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), told the official Indian news agency IANS.

The third is a communication satellite — GSAT-10 – on-board Ariane rocket from Kourou in French Guiana.

The Thiruvananthapuram-based VSSC is part of India’s space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Veeraraghavan said the French satellite is expected to be in India soon while the Japanese satellite is already at ISRO’s launch centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix) has entered into a commercial Launch Services Agreement with Astrium SAS, a company under EADS, France, for launching SPOT-6, an advanced remote sensing satellite.

The 800-kg SPOT-6 built by Astrium SAS will be the heaviest third party payload that ISRO will be carrying after the 350-kg Italian satellite Agile it put into orbit in 2007.

As the total luggage will be around 815 kg, ISRO will be using its Core Alone variant of PSLV (rocket without its six straps on motors).

This mission will take ISRO’s total tally of ferrying foreign satellites to 29.

The Indian space agency, in order to augment its communication transponder capacity, automatic receivers and transmitters for communication and broadcast of signals,  will be launching GSAT-10.

According to Veeraraghavan, the space agency would launch the SARAL satellite – an Indo-French initiative – using the PSLV-C20 rocket sometime in October-November this year.

Agreeing that ISRO normally does not launch any rockets during that period, Veeraraghavan said if the weather is conducive the rocket could be sent up.

He said ISRO is also planning to launch GSAT-14, a small communication satellite that is considered as the replacement for India’s education satellite Edusat, by this December or January next year using its heavier rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The spacecraft will carry Ka-band beacons, that are planned to be used to carry out studies related to rain and atmospheric effects on Ka-band satellite communication links in the Indian region.

ISRO will be flying the GSLV rocket this time with its own cryogenic engine. This will be the second GSLV rocket to fly with indigenous cryogenic engine. The first GSLV rocket that flew with indigenous cryogenic engine in 2010 was a failure.

Veeraraghavan said ISRO will be testing its GSLV Mark III model next March but without the cryogenic engine.