Image: Rocket launch
Babu  /  Reuters
India's PSLV-C7 rocket takes off from the Indian Space Research Organization's launch site at Sriharikota on Wednesday. India launched four satellites on a single rocket for the first time, including one that will be brought back to Earth to set the stage for the country to send a human into space.
updated 1/10/2007 12:12:55 PM ET 2007-01-10T17:12:55

An Indian rocket carrying a satellite designed to test re-entry vehicle technology that could be used in a future manned space mission blasted into space Wednesday.

The red and white rocket climbed into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh to the cheers of scientists and engineers at mission control.

The rocket also put the first Indonesian-built satellite into space, Indonesian officials said.

"It is a great day for the country. We have done it and done it correctly. The mission is a success," said G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

India has indicated that it's working toward putting humans into space as early as 2014, with an eye toward sending a crew to the moon in the 2020 time frame. An unmanned moon mission is scheduled for 2008.

The rocket launched Wednesday carried the 1,210-pound (550-kilogram) Space Capsule Recovery Experiment, or SRE-1, designed to test re-entry technology, ISRO said in a statement.

The capsule will orbit the earth for 13 to 30 days before re-entering the atmosphere and plunging into the Bay of Bengal off India's east coast where it will be recovered, the statement said. It will test technology for "navigation, guidance and control during the re-entry phase."

SRE-1 will also carry out experiments involving microgravity conditions.

The rocket also carried an Indian remote-sensing satellite, and two foreign-built satellites — the Lapan-Tubsat from Indonesia and the Argentine-built Pehuensat-1.

Lapan-Tubsat was the first satellite made by Indonesia, said Agus Nuryanto, deputy at the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space of Indonesia. He said it was built with assistance from the Technical University of Berlin.

The Pehuensat-1 is a 13-pound (6-kilogram) Argentine nanosatellite built by the University of Comahue of Argentina, AMSAT (Amateur Satellite Association of Argentina) and the Argentina Association for Space Technology.

The Argentine satellite is intended to provide an experimental platform to perform amateur radio experiments for the country's colleges and universities, ISRO said.

All four satellites were successfully placed in orbit, said mission director K. Narayanamurthy.

The launch was the first since July when an attempt to launch a communications satellite failed after the rocket veered off course in the separation stage and exploded.

India has had 11 successful rocket launches since its first satellite in the INSAT series was put into orbit in 1982.

India earlier put its satellites in orbit aboard European Ariane rockets launched from the EU's space center in French Guiana.

This report was supplemented by information from

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