One fine day (in the month of March) my colleagues were busy talking about their experience of witnessing a live rocket launch. When listening them I was too excited and started asking questions like when was the next rocket launch? Shall we go for it? Would we able to see the launch live? Can we meet some scientists? And so on. After that they explained the things as they had seen before and said we will go to the next launch.
I got more excited and searching the internet to find the dates of the next rocket launch from India and I came to know that the next launch will be on first week of April. And my team was planning to go for it. I was eagerly waiting for the day. A week before launch I came to know that we have some prior sessions scheduled for the date and we can’t go. I felt bad and was waiting for my next turn!
Days went by and I forgot about the rocket launch dates. One day, my boss informed us that there will be a rocket launch next week and who all is interested can come. While hearing that, I am the first person who raised the hand. From there my imagination started to play in my mind. The rocket was ISRO’s most trusted launch vehicle, PSLV – C46 which was launching a radar imaging satellite, RISAT-2B into the Earth’s orbit.
As the number of days neared my eagerness increased. I started surfing about that rocket and its specifications, watching several videos of previous rocket launches and I’m not able to imagine how it’s going to be.
At last the day arrived, the excitement was overloaded I started early from my home to office and I don’t know why. That entire day I didn’t do any work in my office. Around 9.30 PM we had our dinner then by 10.30 PM we started our trip towards India’s space port. Sriharikota which is around 120km from Chennai and while travelling we had some snacks, music and photography.
After 3 hours of travelling we reached sriharikota at 2:30AM and we captured beautiful pictures of moon along with planets Jupiter and Saturn with trees and lake on the sides.
I along with my boss and two of my colleagues, reached Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Launch View Gallery by 4 AM for the rocket launch observation for the first time I didn’t fell sleepy for the entire night. We set our camera towards the Launchpad and watched the videos they presented on the big screens. The countdown for the rocket launch begins at 5:00 AM and I started eagerly waiting for the final countdown and finally the whole crowd of around 2000 people started the countdown.
10..9..8..7..6.5..4..3..2..1….Lift off!! at 5:30 AM the rocket was launched and soaring high in the sky!
A sudden brightness arises, yes, it’s a rocket!!! And I saw it with my eyes. I kept on staring at the rocket. I heard the roar of the rocket after 4-5 secs after seeing the first light of launch thus, confirming light travels faster than sound. After 2 to 3 minutes we saw different patterns from the smoke of the rocket in the sky. I saw sonic boom for the first time and the stage separation starts. About 15 minutes from launch, the rocket was placed RISAT-2B into an orbit of about 557 km from Earth’s surface.
It was an awesome experience to witness the rocket launch live and while returning back we took pictures of various scaled modeled rockets (PSLV and GSLV) at the entrance of SDSC-SHAR.
Some details I would like everyone to know if they plan their next visit to witness the launch.
ABOUT THE VENUE:
Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) is located in Sriharikota, a spindle-shaped barrier island on the east coast of Andhra Pradesh. SHAR is linked to Sullurupeta by a road across Pulicat Lake. It has two launch-pad, first Launchpad and Second Launchpad. PSLV – C46 was launched from 1st Launchpad.
Launch view gallery is not inside the main campus of SDSC but along the boundary just outside the campus. A bus took us from the entrance to the launch view gallery. We had a huge line and multiple check posts were created for security reasons.
LAUNCH VIEW GALLERY:
In order to spread awareness about the benefits of space technology, ISRO is carrying out number of outreach activities. These activities are designed to address the people of every strata of our society. In addition, ISRO also accommodates a limited number of visitors to witness launch from the space port of India, which is insignificant compared to the demand today. In order to cater this ever-increasing demand for witnessing rocket launches, ISRO has come out with a visitor’s gallery at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota.
In the first phase, 5,000 capacity Launch Viewing Gallery is constructed in the form of a stadium, and placed at an appropriate location with clear line of sight to the two launch pads of the Sriharikota Range. The visitors can view launch from this gallery in real time with naked eyes. Large screens are also placed to visually explain the various intricacies of launcher and satellites. In addition, pre and post launch activities will be telecasted and explained through these screens to the viewers.
ABOUT THE ROCKET:
PSLV-C46 is the 14th flight of PSLV in ‘core-alone’ configuration (without the use of solid strap-on motors). This will be the 72nd launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota and 36th launch from the First Launchpad.
With this mission, PSLV also achieved a record of lofting 50 tonnes of payload into space by placing more than 350 satellites.
My search for RISAT didn’t stop here I wanted to know more about the satellite so, I started reading more about the satellite and here, I present some details that I want to share.
ABOUT THE SATELLITE:
Eight years after launching the last satellite in the RISAT series, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) began the expansion of its radar imaging satellite fleet in space with the successful launch of RISAT-2B onboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C46) which uses synthetic aperture radar to provide all-weather surveillance.
These satellites work like a light-dependent camera that cannot perceive hidden or surreptitious objects in cloudy or dark conditions. They are equipped with an active sensor, the synthetic aperture radar (SAR), so they can sense or ‘observe’ Earth in a special way from space day and night, rain or cloud. The satellite is intended to provide services in the field of Agriculture, Forestry and Disaster Management.
FEATURES OF THE SATELLITE:
- Lift off weight: 615 kg
- Altitude: 557 km
- Payload: X-Band radar
- Inclination: 37 degree
- Mission Life: 5 years
- It has been developed for military and general surveillance purposes. The data will also be used in fields of agriculture, forestry and disaster management support.
- With this advanced earth observation satellite, ISRO has introduced a complex new technology. That is a 3.6 meter unfurlable radial rib antenna. This is also going to be the technology of the future.
- Radar imaging satellites are also used for crop estimation, because the main kharif crop growing season is in May-September, when it rains and gets cloudy. These satellites deliver data extensively for forestry, soil, land use and geology and are extremely useful during floods and cyclone as well.
PICTURES OF THE LAUNCH SEQUENCE CLICKED BY OUR TEAM
For Launch Video, Click on the link below:
At the end, I would like to say, it was an awesome experience to witness the live rocket launch and I would like to see more launches if possible. Now I’m eagerly waiting for the launch of Chandrayaan-2, our 2nd MOON MISSION which is going to launch in July 15th this year, again from SDSC, SHAR
The mission is planned to be launched to the Moon by a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mark III (GSLV Mk III), India’s heaviest rocket launch vehicle and this time ISRO is looking at landing a rover of on the moon for the 1st time, being the 4th country in the world to land a rover on the moon.
To know more about the Launch Gallery at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota, Click here,
And for registration for viewers who would like to witness the launch live, links are put on this website,
Ranjith Kumar E.
Educator, SPACE Chennai