With the successful launch of ASTROSAT, India gained an entry into the select club of nations having its own space observatory after the US, Japan, Russia and Europe. Exactly at 10 am the 44.4 metres tall weighing around 320 ton polar satellite launch vehicle's XL variant (PSLV-XL) blasted off the first launch pad at the rocket port here, around 80 km from Chennai.

The PSLV-XL rocket with seven satellites cumulatively weighing 1,631 kg climbed up steadily gathering speed amidst the cheers of Indian space agency officials and the media team assembled here. The expendable rocket carried Rs 180 crore ASTROSAT, India's first dedicated multi-wavelength space observatory that will help in understanding the universe, and six other foreign satellites.

Incidentally, this is the first time that an Indian rocket launched satellites from the US.

While four US satellites have been put into orbit today, the remaining five would also piggy back on a bigger satellite later. Just over 22 minutes into the flight, the rocket slug ASTROSAT at an altitude of 650 km above the earth.  

Soon after, six other satellites were put into orbit and the whole mission ended in just over 25 minutes. For the third time a PSLV rocket has launched seven satellites in a single mission. In 2008, ISRO had launched 10 satellites in one go, including India's Cartosate-2A satellite.

The five payloads/instruments of ASTROSAT are selected to facilitate deeper insight into the various astrophysical processes occurring in the various types of astronomical objects constituting our universe, ISRO said.

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