Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 08:27 UK

India launches seven satellites

The Ocean Monitoring Satellite Oceansat-2 is seen 18 minutes after blast off on September 23, 2009
India's space programme is more than 45 years old

India has successfully launched seven satellites in a single mission, nearly a month after the country's inaugural Moon mission was aborted.

The rocket was carrying an Indian remote-sensing satellite and six smaller ones, all of them foreign.

The Indian satellite will help spot fishing zones in the sea by monitoring ocean temperatures.

Observers say India is emerging as a major player in the multi-billion dollar space market.

Wednesday's launch, from the Sriharikota space centre off India's east coast, is being described as another milestone for the country's 46-year-old space programme.

This is the 16th mission for India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) - a seven-storey-high, 230 tonne rocket.

A spokesman for state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) S Satish told the BBC that the Indian satellite Oceansat-2 is carrying a new instrument which can measure wind speed over the surface of the ocean. He said the device will help track monsoons and cyclones.

The rocket is also carrying six smaller satellites from Germany, Switzerland and Turkey.

Wednesday's launch came as a boost to India's space scientists after the country terminated its inaugural Moon mission last month.

Despite the termination of the mission, Isro chief G Madhavan Nair said that the project was a great success and 95% of its objectives had been completed.

Last year India successfully launched 10 satellites in a single mission, boosting its capabilities in space.

The country started its space programme in 1963, and has since designed, built and launched its own satellites into space.

In 2007, India put an Italian satellite into orbit for a fee of $11m. In January 2008, India successfully launched an Israeli spy satellite into orbit.

Correspondents say that the country is developing its rocket-launching capabilities to reduce its dependence on foreign space agencies, as well as to corner a share of the world's lucrative satellite-launching market.

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