Chennai: The countdown to Wednesday`s launch of the Indian PSLV rocket ferrying four satellites is progressing smoothly, with the fourth stage fully fuelled up, said an official of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
"The countdown is progressing with butter smoothness. There are no surprises or hitches till now. The fourth stage has been fuelled up. Fuelling of the second stage will begin at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday) and will be completed by midnight," said the official who did not want to be named.
The rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is expected to blast off from the first launch pad at ISRO`s launch centre in Sriharikota, around 80 km from here at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
It will be lugging a 1,000-kg Megha Tropiques and three smaller satellites together weighing 42.6 kg.
Megha Tropiques is an Indo-French collaboration to study climatic and atmospheric changes in tropical regions and will make India the second nation in the world to launch such a space mission.
The satellite will look down at the earth from around 800 km low earth orbit and is expected to enable the India Meteorological Department to forecast weather in a more precise manner.
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) -- a joint mission of NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) designed to monitor and study tropical rainfall -- was launched Nov 27, 1997.
According to Indian space officials, ISRO will bear the launch cost of around Rs.90 crore while French space agency Centre National d`Études Spatiales (CNES) has spent around Rs.300 crore.
The CNES has built three instruments of Megha Tropiques: SAPHIR, SCARAB & GPS-ROS. The fourth, MADRAS, is a joint effort of ISRO and CNES.
The three nano satellites that will be ferried by the PSLV are the 10.9-kg SRMSAT built by the students of SRM University near Chennai; the 3-kg remote sensing satellite Jugnu from the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur; and the 28.7-kg VesselSat from Luxembourg to locate ships on high seas.
For ISRO, this will be the third rocket launch this year from India. In April, the agency successfully launched remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2 and two others. In July, communication satellite GSAT-12 was put in orbit.
As far as the rocket is concerned, ISRO will be using the `core alone` variant -- without its solid fuel six strap-on motors -- of its PSLV rocket for the seventh time.
The four stage/engine PSLV rocket is powered by a mix of solid and liquid propellants.
The first and third stages are powered by solid fuel and are cast ready while the second and fourth stages are powered by liquid fuel which will be filled during the countdown.
According to ISRO, the rocket will first sling Megha-Tropiques at around 22 minutes into the flight. It will be followed by SRMSAT, VesselSat and Jugnu. The whole process is expected to be completed in 25 minutes from the time the rocket blasts off.