India

Astrosat: India launches first space laboratory

An image of Astrosat before its mission Image copyright Isro
Image caption Astrosat has a five-year lifespan and will "study celestial objects" 650km (404 miles) above earth

India has launched its first dedicated space laboratory Astrosat from the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The multi-wavelength observatory has a five-year lifespan and will "study celestial objects" 650km (404 miles) above earth.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said Astrosat was carrying four X-ray payloads, a UV telescope and charge particle monitor.

Astrosat is Isro's biggest project since its Mars orbiter mission in 2014.

Scientists glued to their computer screens broke into applause with the successful launch of Astrosat, the IANS news agency said.

Image copyright Isro
Image caption Isro tweeted about the successful launch of Astrosat into orbit by PSLV-C30

Isro said the scientific objectives of Astrosat included understanding "high energy processes in binary star systems containing neutron stars and black holes" and detecting "new briefly bright X-ray sources in the sky".

The findings of the observatory will be analysed by India's major astronomy institutes and some universities, the agency added.

"What it means for India is this: it is one of the first scientific missions which will be available to the Indian researcher community as an observation opportunity. This is a starting point for such things," Isro's chairman AS Kiran Kumar said.

The launch vehicle used to place Astrosat in orbit also carried a payload of satellites from Indonesia, Canada and the US.

This is the first time an Indian vehicle has been used to place US satellites in orbit.