Commercial satellite launches by India were given a recent boost after it successfully executed its first such deal with Italy in this $2.5 billion-a-year market. Placing an Italian satellite in orbit on Monday, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is charging 11 million dollars, according to a report by Press Trust of India. The ISRO runs the space program in India.

The Agile astronomical satellite was launched by India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) into its intended orbit about 550 kilometers above the earth 20 minutes after the rocket’s blast off.

It was the first commercial space mission from India and the 11th rocket launch. Informing the public by satellite-run television, the Indian Space Research Organization chief, G. Mahadavan Nair, said that it was one of the historic moments for the entire space community that a vehicle made by an Indian team placed an Italian satellite into orbit.

From Sriharikota space port, 80 kilometers from Chennai in Southern India, he said that they had proven the reliability and cost effectiveness of the PSLV and made the delivery on time. The rocket blasted off at 3:30 p.m. local time (1000 GMT), leaving massive smoke trails in its wake.

Giving an interview on Indian television, the head of the Italian space agency, Giovanni Bignani, said that he was really proud to be in India and this launch indicated cooperation between Italy and India. The Italian astronomical satellite weighing 352 kilograms will gather information about the origins of the universe.

According to the head of Indian department of space, K R Sridhara Murthi, though the launch took just minutes to complete, it required about 1,000 technical personnel for pre-launch preparations and years of work for the launch process. India started its space program in 1963 and has developed and put its own satellites into space. To reduce dependency on overseas space agencies, India has designed and built launch rockets as well. However, it has recently begun to explore commercial space missions.

In 1980, the first successful launch of a domestic satellite, weighing just 35 kilograms, was carried out by a home-built rocket. Earlier, the PSLV had launched eight remote-sensing and one amateur radio satellite and now has the capacity to place 1,500-kilogram satellites into orbit. On the other hand, the rocket has been modified for launching smaller Agile. Together with Agile, it carries a space module to examine aviation and electronic systems. Source: OhMyNews