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Indian rocket launches small satellites

Indian rocket launches  small satellitesThe Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C23) satellite takes off during its launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, Monday, June 30, 2014. The rocket was carrying French Earth Observation Satellite SPOT-7 with four other satellites, AISAT of Germany, NLS7.1 (CAN-X4) and NSL7.2 (CAN-X5) of Canada and VELOX-1 of Singapore. (AP Photo)

SRIHARIKOTA, India - The latest satellites in the Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment program (CanX) were launched by an Indian rocket on Monday.

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, carrying five foreign satellites, blasted off from the Indian Space Research Organization's launch pad in southern India shortly before 10 a.m. local time.

It carried two Canadian satellites, CanX-4 and CanX-5, from the University of Toronto's Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Laboratory.

Each weighs only about 15 kilograms. Their primary mission is the demonstration of satellite formation flying, the institute said in a post on its website.

"In this context, formation flying is defined as two or more satellites controlling their position and orientation with respect to one another to achieve a predefined configuration necessary for co-ordinated operations."

CanX-4 and CanX-5 will use the technology proven aboard CanX-2 to achieve and maintain several controlled formations in orbit, the institute said.

It said formation will be controlled with the Canadian Nanosatellite Advanced Propulsion System, also developed at UTIAS/SFL.

"During the mission, the propellant usage in autonomous formation control strategies will be evaluated for future improvements."

The main payload of the PSLV was the French earth observation satellite SPOT-7, weighing more than 700 kilograms. The other two satellites were from Germany and Singapore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to Sriharikota to watch the launch.

The PSLV is the workhorse of the Indian space agency, which has used it to launch dozens of foreign satellites over the past few years.

Canada and India have been partners in space programs since 2003 when the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming their pursuit of international space co-operation for peaceful purposes.

- By Abdul Latheef in Toronto.

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