The INSAT-3C satellite built by ISRO, was successfully launched early this morning (January 24, 2002) by the Ariane-4 launch vehicle of Arianespace. The 147th flight of Ariane, carrying ISRO’s 2,750 kg INSAT-3C, lifted off at 05:17 am IST from Kourou, French Guyana in South America. INSAT-3C was injected into a Geo-synchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), 21 minutes after the lift-off, in a 3-axis stabilised mode, with a perigee of 570 km and an apogee of 35,920 km and an inclination of 4 deg. with respect to the equator. The satellite is at present going round the earth with an orbital period of about 10.5 hours.

The INSAT Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka acquired the telemetry signal from INSAT-3C at 5:47 am IST. The initial health checks on the satellite indicate that the performance of the satellite is normal. First operations on this satellite were carried out by issuing commands from the Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hasssan. The outermost panel of the stowed solar array on the south side of the satellite was oriented towards the sun to start generating the electrical power required by the satellite during its transfer orbit phase. Subsequently, the earth viewing face was oriented towards earth and calibration of the gyros on board the satellite has been carried out.

INSAT-3C is being tracked, monitored and controlled from MCF, Hassan. During the initial phase of the operation, MCF also utilises INMARSAT Organisation’s ground stations at Beijing (Ch