18/04/2001 GSLV Successfully launched, the sixth country to achieve this in the World

SRIHARIKOTA, APRIL 18. India today bridged a technological gulf when its biggest rocket, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), placed a satellite in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), just past 4 p.m.

``The launch vehicle took off majestically at the appointed time, 3.43 p.m. and all its stages functioned nominally to inject the satellite into orbit,'' said Dr. Kasturirangan, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation. This is the first time ISRO has attempted a Due East mission.

Explaining the use of the term ``nominal'', the ISRO chief said: ``The perigee achieved was 181 km. as against the 182 km. originally intended; the inclination was 19.2 degrees as against 19 degrees in the satellite. We are confident that the exact orbit can be achieved.''

The ISRO chairman telephoned the Prime Minister, Mr. A. B. Vajpayee, about the success of the mission. The Prime Minister's voice was ``choked with emotion'' when he congratulated the ISRO team. ``He told us the nation is proud of us,'' Dr. Kasturirangan said. He also informed the Minister in charge, Ms. Vasundhara Raje, who expressed similar sentiments.

The clear skies on a hot and humid summer day at Sriharikota range (SHAR) provided the setting for a near-perfect take-off for the 49-metre, 401-tonne launch vehicle. When the GSLV, with its 1,540 kg payload GSAT-1 ``obeyed' instructions to inject the satellite in a GTO, east of Indonesia, it elevated India to a select club of nations capable of handling cryogenic stages and launching heavier satellites. The GTO has a perigee of 185 km. and an apogee of 36,000 km. The satellite's orbit will be circularised by firing its propulsion systems into an orbit of 36,000 km by 36,000 km

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