India’s second exclusive meteorological satellite INSAT-3D was launched successfully on Friday by a European rocket from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana, augmenting capability in weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue services.
The satellite was placed in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by French commercial space transportation company Arianespace’s Ariane-5 rocket, 32 minutes and 48 seconds after its lift-off at 1.24 AM IST.
In its 56th consecutive successful mission, the workhorse vehicle Ariane 5 also launched Alphasat, Europe’s largest ever telecommunication satellite.
INSAT-3D, carrying advanced payloads including improved imaging system, will add a new dimension to weather monitoring through the newly developed atmospheric sounding system which would provide vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone from surface to top of the atmosphere.
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) announced that its Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka took over the control of INSAT-3D soon after it was placed in orbit.
‘‘Preliminary health checks of all the sub-systems of INSAT-3D bus were performed and the satellite’s health is satisfactory,’’ ISRO said. Earlier, the solar panel of INSAT-3D got automatically deployed soon after separation of the satellite from Ariane-5.
In the coming days, orbit raising manoeuvres will be performed on INSAT-3D using the satellite’s own propulsion system to place it in the 36,000 km high Geostationary Orbit after which it was planned to turn on the meteorological payloads in the second week of next month, it said.
‘‘We are looking forward to an excellent operational performance of INSAT-3D for the next seven years making a difference for the weather forecasting and disaster warning systems for the country,’’ ISRO chairman said.
With a lift-off mass of 2060 kg, INSAT-3D carried four payloads, Imager, Sounder, Data Relay Transponder (DRT) and Satellite Aided Search & Rescue payload.
The imager can take weather pictures of the earth and has improved features compared to the payloads in KALPANA-1, the first in the series of exclusive meteorological satellites built by ISRO, and INSAT-3A, which have been providing weather services for the past one decade.
The search and rescue payload would pick up and relay alert signals originating from distress