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India stamps claim on space with satellite launch

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India has made its space-going intentions clear early in 2007, with the launch of four satellites atop a single rocket.

The launch went off without a hitch. The PSLV-C7 rocket blasted off from a launchpad in Sriharikota. On board were two Indian satellites, plus one each from Indonesia and Argentina.

Speaking after the launch, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G. Madhavan Nair said: "We have done it, we have done it well, we have done it correctly. It was a successful textbook mission and our boys have done well."

One of the satellites is designed to see whether or not the ISPRO can recapture a capsule, in orbit. If successful, the mission will take the ISRO a step closer to its target of launching a manned space mission by 2014. The country also has ambitions to put a person on the moon by 2020.

Currently only China, Russia and the US have put people in space using their own rockets. Moon-visiting is an even more exclusive club.

The mission is the first since the country lost a new communications satellite in a failed launch in July last year. After a textbook start, the rocket went into a tailspin and disintegrated, dropping a 2,000kg comms satellite into the Bay of Bengal, along with the rest of the exploded rocket.

As well as acting as proof of concept for the country's scientific space program, the successful launch will boost hopes of attracting a reasonable slice of the lucrative, if risky, satellite launch business. ®

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