Sriharikota: A new variant of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket was launched with the country’s defence imaging satellite Microsat R and student satellite Kalamsat on Thursday night. The rocket was scheduled to eject Microsat R in about 14 minutes after take-off at an altitude of about 277 km.

A senior officer of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said, “There is an increased demand for satellites from strategic sectors. About six-seven satellites are planned to be built.”

The GSAT-7 and GSAT-7A are the only two satellites dedicated to military communication. All other earth observation and communication satellites launched earlier were of dual-use _ civilian and defence.

During the fourth stage, at about 103rd minute after the lift-off, the rocket would turn into an orbital platform for Kalamsat at an altitude of 450 km. The Kalamsat is a payload developed by students and Chennai-based Space Kidz India. It will be the first to use the rocket’s fourth stage as an orbital platform. The fourth stage will be moved to a higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments, ISRO had said.

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said, “ISRO is open to all students of India. Bring to us your satellites and we will launch it for you. Let’s make India into a science-fairing nation.”

The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel. Sivan said that an aluminium tank has been used to reduce weight and increase the mass during the fourth stage. In its normal configuration, the rocket would have six strap-on motors hugging its first stage. But the 44.4-metre tall rocket that lifted off on Thursday has two strap-on motors and its configuration is designated as PSLV-DL.

(With Agency inputs)