Recovery satellite splashes down, 12 days after take-off

Monday, 22 January 2007, 06:00 Hrs
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Chennai: The recovery satellite put into orbit by the Polar Synchronised Launch Vehicle PSLV-C7 12 days ago was brought safely back to earth, marking India's first attempt to test re-entry and recovery.

The Space Recovery Experiment-1 (SRE-1) splashed down in the waters of the Bay of Bengal at 9.45 a.m., about 140 km from where it had taken off into space at the Sriharikota launch station in Andhra Pradesh.

"Its speed at the time was about 40 km per hour, the speed of a car," said an official of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), adding that it was located by a Coast Guard helicopter and recovery efforts were in full swing.

The satellite will be towed first to an area off the Ennore harbour, north of Chennai. The Coast Guard vessel will then slowly navigate northward to Sriharikota and reach the station by night.

On Jan 10, the PSLV-C7 had put the into space four satellites. Three of these were communication satellites - one Indian, one Indonesian and one Argentinean.

The fourth satellite was the SRE-1, which weighed about 550 kg and was shaped like a cone. It was placed 625 km above the earth.

Its re-entry is the first ISRO test of re-usable vehicles and satellites before India launches its moon mission in February 2008.

The SRE demonstrates the technology of an orbiting platform for doing experiments in micro-gravity conditions.

The SRE has an aero-thermal protection system and ISRO is testing basic technology for protective outer jackets for satellites and vehicles, mission director N. Narayana Moorthy had told reporters.

The SRE-1 also contained a spacecraft platform, a floating system, a parachute to control its drop, and micro-gravity payloads to reduce its plunge speed.

The decision to test the re-entry and recovery technology was taken after 80 scientists from across the country gave their unanimous consent to sending a manned mission to space at a conference in Bangalore in November at the instance of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

It had a flotation system and a parachute, which helped reduce its velocity after re-entry into earth atmosphere.

Made of mild steel, the satellite's re-entry has also given ISRO data on navigation, guidance and control, hypersonic aero-thermodynamics, management of communication blackout, deceleration and flotation system and recovery operations.

"We have been fully in control of the vehicle during its stay in space," said S.K. Sivakumar, ISRO's telemetry chief.

Only countries like the US, Russia and China have successfully mastered re-entry technology.
Source: IANS
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