THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Bad weather forced the launch schedule to be tweaked a little bit, but India’s first ‘student rocket’ successfully took to the leaden skies from Thumba late Friday evening. And if things work out, Thumba would witness a student rocket launch every year.
Built by BTech students of ISRO’s Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) at Valiyamala, the ‘Vyom’ sounding rocket lifted off at 7.25 p.m., 55 minutes late. The launch went off perfectly, IIST director K S Dasgupta said.
"Excellent...Excellent!’’ was how an exultant Dasgupta reacted to the launch.
"It performed better than we expected. The rocket reached a height of 16 kilometres, against the expected altitude of 13.6 kms. There were two accelormeters as payloads; one of IIST and the other a regular VSSC payload. Both functioned satisfactorily,’’ he said.
‘Vyom,’ developed with the help of VSSC, was originally scheduled to lift off from TERLS at 6.30 p.m., but the bad weather and the presence of aircraft stranded above the Thiruvananthapuram Airport unable to land delayed the launch. It was a big moment for IIST and ISRO. The sounding rocket project was announced in 2007, a few months after the institute was opened. "We did not hurry the project. But in the end, it was a perfect launch. All flight parameters matched. The radar too was able to track it despite the bad weather,’’ VSSC director P S Veeraraghavan said.
Successive IIST batches had worked on the project. On Friday, students of IIST, their parents and former students who are now working in various ISRO units were present to witness the launch. Project mentor KA Ninan and other top officials also were present. IIST director K S Dasgupta said IIST hoped to launch a ‘student rocket’ every year.
"'Vyom’ has helped the students learn the difficulties involved in building a rocket. This is not a full-stop. We’ll perfect it. Our dream is a launch every year. That is our goal,’’ he said. Projects planned by IIST also include a nano-satellite, which was announced with the sounding rocket project but was postponed.