Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), June 30 - An Indian rocket carrying a French earth observation satellite and four other foreign satellites blasted off from the rocket port here.
Exactly at 9.52 a.m., the rocket - Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C23 (PSLV-C23) - standing around 44.4 metres tall and weighing around 230 ton tore into the bright morning skies with orange flames fiercely burning at its tail.
The rocket port is around 80 km from Chennai.
The rocket's main luggage is the 714 kg French earth observation satellite SPOT-7.
Piggybacking on the main luggage are the four small satellites viz: 14-kg AISAT of Germany; NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NLS7.2 (CAN-X5) from Canada each weighing 15 kg; and the 7-kg VELOX-1 of Singapore.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan, Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu, space scientists and other invitees at Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) rocket mission control room intently watched the rocket's upward flight with one way ticket.
This is the first space mission of the Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.
The five satellites are being launched under commercial arrangements that Antrix Corporation - ISRO's commercial arm - has entered into with the respective foreign agencies.
ISRO officials are hoping that the agency's around 20 minute crucial space mission will turn out to be a grand success.
As per the mission plan, the rocket will first spit out its heaviest and costliest luggage - SPOT-7 - around 18 minutes after the blast off.
India had launched another French satellite SPOT-6 in 2012. The latest in the SPOT family of satellites is the SPOT-7.
The ejection of SPOT-7 will be followed by AISAT (German), NLS7.1, NLS7.2 (both from Canada) and VELOX-1 (Singapore).
Starting from 1999 India has launched 35 foreign satellites till date using its PSLV rocket. The successful launch of five satellites Monday would take the tally to 40.
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 moon and mars.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at email@example.com)
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