Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a sounding rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota on Friday, March 14. The sounding rocket RH-560 will be used to study the upper atmosphere, variations in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics.

ISRO posted the images of the rocket launch on Twitter on Friday night.

Sounding rockets are one or two-stage launch vehicles which use solid propellant. These rockets are especially used to study the upper atmosphere and for space research.  Sounding rockets are low cost which makes them very affordable options to test new parts or subsystems of launch vehicles and satellites.

In India, the first sounding rocket was launched in 1963 from Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. The rockets, M-100 and Centaure, were two-stage rockets. The M-100 was imported from Russia and could carry a payload of 70 kg to 85 km altitude. Centaure was imported from France and could carry a payload of 30 kg to 150 km altitude. These sounding rockets helped to probe the atmosphere using rocket-borne instrumentation during its flight.

From 1965, ISRO started launching its own sounding rockets. In 1975, it created a series of sounding rockets under the Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) Programme. RH-75 was the first Indian sounding rocket followed by RH-100 and RH-125 rockets.

Currently, ISRO has three versions of operational sounding rockets.

SoundingRocket Payload (kg) Altitude (km)
RH-200 10 80
RH-300-Mk-II 60 160
RH-560-MK-II 100 470

ISRO’s first launch of 2021

In February, ISRO launched Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C51 carrying Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passenger satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre. It was the first launch of the year Indian Space Research Organisation. The Amazonia-1 is an optical earth observation satellite of Brazil. Amazonia-1 will monitor deforestation in the Amazon region and analyse the agriculture of Brazilian lands. Those 18 satellites include four satellites from from IN-SPACe and 14 satellites from NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).These 14 satellites from NSIL were the commercial satellites from USA and India.

PSLV-C51 was the 53rd flight mission of PSLV and 78th launch mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre.

ISRO to launch 14 missions in 2021

After the successful launch of Amazonia-1 and 18 co-passenger satellites, ISRO is planning to launch 14 more missions this year. The 14 missions will include seven vehicle launches, six satellite missions, and the first unmanned space mission. ISRO will take up the unmanned mission late this year before the Gaganyaan-manned space mission. The Gaganyaan mission includes sending three Indians to space by 2022. The 4 pilots selected for the Gaganyaan mission are receiving training in Russia.