The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) commercial mission carrying five foreign satellites, including the 714-kg French earth observation satellite SPOT-7. The 44.4-metre-tall PSLV rocket, Isro’s workhorse, took off precisely at 9:52 am from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), in this island in the Bay of Bengal, about 100 km north of Chennai. The launch was earlier scheduled at 9:49 am, but was delayed by three minutes owing to the probability of space debris getting in the way of the launch vehicle. “My congratulations to our brilliant space scientists for yet another successful launch of the Polar Satellite. We have perfectly placed five satellites into their orbits 660 km above the Earth,” said Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi, who witnessed the launch here. “This fills every Indian’s heart with pride. I am fascinated by space technology and feel specially privileged to witness this event in person. India’s advanced space programme puts her in an elite global group of 5-6 countries today,” he said. Mr Modi also urged the scientists to develop a satellite dedicated to the Saarc nations. About 20 minutes after the launch, the rocket, with a lift-off mass of 230 tonnes, first ejected its heaviest luggage, SPOT-7, into the orbit at a height of about 660 km, followed by AISAT (German), NLS7.1, NLS7.2 (both from Canada) and VELOX-1 (Singapore). SPOT-7 is a French Optical Earth Observation Satellite identical to SPOT-6 launched in September 2012.