Nelluru : After a 26-hour countdown, the Indian Space Research Organisation on Saturday carried out its first launch post the lockdown, with the lift-off of the 51st Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C49) that put an Earth Observation Satellite (EOS-01) into the intended circular orbit of 575 km with a 36.9 degree inclination.

The PSLV-C49 EOS-01 took place from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota, despite rainy weather owing to the retreating monsoon in that part of the east coast.

The countdown was halted at T-15 minutes, as a precaution against lightning that could damage the electronic equipment in the satellite. However, with just minutes to go for the launch, a new launch time was announced for 3:12 PM instead of 3:02 PM.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation, scientists and technocrats were not present from other centres of ISRO for this launch as SOPs with limits on personnel and social distancing were followed.

For the first time, the launch control centre data at SHAR was made available at all remote centres of ISRO, limiting the number of scientists at SHAR.

The launch was also streamed on ISRO’s website, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook for the public.

Along with the primary satellite (ISRO’s EOS-01), nine international customer satellites were launched — one from Lithuania (R2 for technology demonstration) and four each from Luxembourg (Kleos (KSM-1A/1B/1C/1D for Maritime Application) and USA (Lemur 1/2/3/4 for Multi Mission Remote Sensing) under a commercial agreement with the New Space Indian Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.

The PSLV-C49 is the PSLV-DL with just two strap ons along with the core motor unlike the regular PSLV-XL which has six strap on boosters. This is just the second time PSLV-DL is being used for a launch — the first was in January 2019.

The launch campaign had begun on 29 January 2020 and continued till March 12. The launch vehicle was then kept in preservation mode due the COVID crisis.

The equipment bay was kept in a conditioned environment. The vehicle was being inspected regularly till the resumption of activities.

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