India’s first telescope satellite, Astrosat, launched into orbit

28 Sep 2015

The Astrosat satellite. Image via ISRO

The Indian space agency has celebrated a landmark achievement this month with the launch of Astrosat, the country’s first telescope and astronomical instrument launched into orbit.

The Astrosat satellite will be the country’s equivalent to the Hubble Space Telescope and it was launched aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-XL) rocket, which also carried six other countries’ satellites into orbit.

However, according to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), its telescope is different to the others that currently lie just outside of our planet because it will observe the universe in the optical, ultraviolet, low and high energy X-ray regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Astrosat was launched into a 650km orbit inclined at an angle of six degrees to the Earth’s equator and it will have a number of missions, including a limited deep field survey of the universe in the ultraviolet region as well as to study star birth regions.

With Astrosat now launched into orbit, India joins an elite few regions that have launched space telescopes, joining the US, Russia, Europe (ESA) and Japan.

While satellites like the Hubble Space Telescope are coming towards the end of their scheduled life, ISRO said that the Astrosat will have an operational lifespan of five years.

However, the payloads aboard the craft will not begin operating and sending back scientific data until at least 5 October.

Speaking of the successful launch, the director of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre where the craft was launched, P Kunhikrishnan, said: “The mission is successful. It is a well-professed and synchronous efforts. It’s a hard-earned gift.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic