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India Launches Multiple Satellites Into Space

By Anjana Pasricha
New Delhi
28 April 2008

India has launched a record number of satellites into space in a single mission. The launch marks a milestone for the country's space program. Anjana Pasricha reports from New Delhi, India wants to emerge as a major player in the global commercial satellite launch market.

A rocket belonging to India's space agency lifted off from the Sriharikota space station in Andhra Pradesh early Monday, putting a cluster of ten satellites into earth orbit within minutes.

Two of the satellites belong to India. These include a mini satellite, and a remote sensing satellite fitted with a high resolution camera for recording images from space.

The data from the remote sensing satellite will be used to map infrastructure and natural resources in the country, and will assist planners in the country.

The eight other satellites launched are small ones built by research institutions from Europe, Canada and Japan.

The head of the space agency, G. Madhavan Nair, said the mission was successful.

"We could not detect even the slightest deviation from the designated trajectory, so that shows the mission was perfect, and spacecrafts were delivered on the dot," Nair said.

Indian news reports said Monday's launch of ten satellites broke the previous record of eight satellites put into space by a Russian rocket.

Indian experts say the launch of a number of satellites in one go demonstrates that the country's space program has made technological advances and can handle multiple payloads.

India wants to win a slice of the global commercial satellite launch market, estimated to be worth billions of dollars. So far that market is controlled by countries like the United States, Russia and China and the European Space Agency.

The Indian Space Agency says its satellite launch services are much cheaper than those offered by other space agencies.

Last year, India put an Italian satellite in space for a fee of $11 million. Earlier this year, it launched an Israeli spy satellite.

India's next big leap in space exploration will come later this year, when it plans to launch a lunar mission.

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