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PM witnesses India’s maiden ton in space

An Indian rocket successfully put into orbit two foreign satellites on Sunday, marking the Indian space agency ISRO's 100th mission in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. 'As ISRO's 100th space mission, today's launch is a milestone in our nation's space capabilities,' the prime minister said here after the launch.

Exactly at 9.53 am, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C21, 44 metres tall and weighing around 230 tonne, hurtled itself towards the skies ferrying the two satellites – SPOT 6, a 712-kilogramme French earth observation satellite, and Proiteres, a 15-kilogramme Japanese micro satellite.

The PSLV, costing around Rs 90 crore, blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, around 80 kilometres from Chennai. 

With a rich orange flame at its tail and plume of white smoke, PSLV-C21 ascended towards the sky amid cheers of ISRO scientists and media team assembled at the launch centre. People perched atop nearby buildings too clapped as the rocket went up.

Scientists at ISRO's new mission control room were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escape the earth's gravitational pull.

Singh, who along with the minister in the Prime Minister's Office, V Narayanasamy, witnessed the launch, congratulated ISRO scientists and engineers and EADS Astrium of France and Osaka Institute of Technology of Japan for the successful launch of their satellites.

'Questions are sometimes asked about whether a poor country like India can afford a space programme and whether the funds spent on space exploration, albeit modest, could be better utilised elsewhere.

'This misses the point that a nation's state of development is finally a product of its technological prowess,' the prime minister said.

The remote sensing satellites send back pictures and other data. 
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