BANGALORE, India — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully placed three satellites into orbit April 20 including an Indian Earth mapping spacecraft that also carries an experimental ship identification payload and Singapore’s first domestically manufactured satellite.

The launch took place from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Island off southeastern India 80 kilometers north of Chennai.

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The primary payload was  Resourcesat-2 built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). Resourcesat-2, an advanced remote sensing satellite weighing 1,206 kilograms, will replace Resourcesat-1 launched in 2003, ISRO spokesman S. Satish told Space News. Resourcesat-2 along with the two piggyback payloads, Singapore’s 105-kilogram X-Sat and the Indo-Russian Youthsat, weighing in at 92 kilograms, were  injected into an 820-kilometer, sun synchronous polar orbit, he said.

The mission was a total success ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said in a televised press conference. The first images from Resourcesat-2 would be available April 28, he said.

This was the 18th launch of the PSLV, all successful except the first mission in September 1993. The four-stage rocket weighs 295 metric tons and stands 44 meters tall. The PSLV used in the latest mission was the standard version, featuring six solid-booster motors bundled around the vehicle’s core stage.

The PSLV has so far launched 44 satellites, 25 of which were from abroad, ISRO said.

The successful launch follows a rough stretch for ISRO, which in the last 12 months had successive failures of its Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle and also became mired in a controversy over the lease of S-band spectrum to a private company run by retired ISRO scientists.

“Resourcesat-2 is intended to continue the remote sensing data services to global users provided by Resourcesat-1, and to provide data with enhanced multispectral and spatial coverage as well,” ISRO said in a post-launch statement. The spacecraft has three cameras with high, medium and coarse resolutions that will provide imagery with applications include locating ground water and minerals, monitoring crops, identifying fishing zones, mapping coastal zones, and tracking water levels in reservoirs, lakes and canals, Satish said.

The satellite also carries an experimental automatic identification system, or AIS, ship-tracking payload supplied by Ottawa-based ComDev International. AIS payloads relay identification, location, speed and other information about ships approaching ports to coastal authorities.

X-Sat is a collaborative project between the Nanyang Technological University and other organizations in Singapore. The university’s website says the project is “aimed at developing the capability within Singapore to design, build, test, and operate a mini-satellite bus with multi-mission support capability.”

X-Sat carries a multispectral imaging camera that operates in the visible and near-infrared wavelength range; an advanced data acquisition and messaging instrument for communication with remote mobile terminals; and an on-board image processing demonstration payload. Satish said X-Sat will operate for three years.

He declined to disclose the value of ISRO’s contract to launch X-Sat.

According to ISRO, Youthsat will study the atmosphere with the participation of students from universities at graduate, postgraduate and research scholar level. The “Youthsat mission intends to investigate the relationship between solar variability and Thermosphere-Ionosphere changes,” ISRO said in the statement. The satellite’s payloads — two supplied by India and one by Russia — “form a unique and comprehensive package of experiments for the investigation of the composition, energetic and dynamics of earth’s upper atmosphere,” ISRO said.

Based in Bangalore, Killugudi S. Jayaraman holds a doctorate in nuclear physics from the University of Maryland and a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. He was formerly science editor of the...