PSLV C-41 on the first launch pad just minutes before taking off

Despite the GSAT-6A hiccup, India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), in its forty-third flight PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I Mission in XL configuration successfully launched the IRNSS-1I Satellite at 04:04 Hrs (IST) from India's spaceport SHAR. The 'XL' configuration of PSLV was used for the twentieth time. The IRNSS-1I is the eighth satellite to join the NavIC navigation satellite constellation.

IRNSS-1I was India's first privately built satellite launched successfully into space. A consortium of mid- and small sized firms led by Bangalore-based aerospace company Alpha Design Technologies built IRNSS-1L, which is the backup navigation satellite with a new atomic clock, under the watchful eyes of ISRO. It is also the first satellite to be built at a special ISRO facility for private firms. It is not just satellite outsourcing, ISRO also wants Indian firms to build the PSLV.

This is the second satellite the private team has built for ISRO. The previous one was lost in August last year, when the heat shield of the rocket failed to open and let out the spacecraft. An inquiry later found an explosive bolt had failed to detonate fully, to break the latch of the heat case or conical top of the PSLV, where satellites are housed to protect it from the dense atmospheric regime as they are carried into space.

The workhorse of India’s space program, the PSLV made its maiden flight in September 1994. The success of today's launch will pay rich dividends by confirming PSLV's reliability and play an important role as a commercially viable alternative to the more expensive global launch platforms, it is worthy to note that PSLV's launch per kilo rate is even cheaper even than China's.

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