University-built micro ready to ride

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India's first university-built micro-satellite is expected to be completed by year-end. The Rp5.5 billion ($125 million), 35kg (80lb) Anusat store-and-forward communication satellite will ride as a piggyback payload on the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) into a near-circular Sun-synchronous orbit, writes Radhakrishna Rao in Bangalore.

Built by the Aerospace Research Centre at Anna University in Chennai with ISRO funding support, Anusat's basic objective is to demonstrate the utility of micro-satellite technology, including the MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) gyro and magnetic field sensor.

Meanwhile, the $10 million European Union contract to launch the Italian-built Agile satellite by PSLV, planned by year-end, will give ISRO its first opportunity to send an international satellite into orbit as a prime payload. The PSLV has flown piggyback payloads for overseas clients on two previous occasions.

The next PSLV launch is scheduled for next month, carrying ISRO's Cartosat-1 cartographic satellite, from the newly built second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota island. An advanced version of this satellite, Cartosat-2, is planned for a PSLV launch by year-end.