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India to launch first astronomical observatory

NEW DELHI, Sept. 27 — The countdown has begun for the launch of India's first home-made astronomical observatory that will be launched Monday, a space official said Sunday.

"AstroSat, which is intended to study distant celestial objects, will be launched by the state-owned Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) from the southern spaceport of Sriharikota around 10 a.m. (local time) Monday," he said, on condition of anonymity.

The official added: "It will be placed in an orbit which is almost 650 kms above the surface of the Earth and is expected to have a mission life of five years."

If the launch is successful, then India will join an elite club- – the United States, European Union and Japan which have so far managed to have their own telescope in space.

The space observatory will be launched on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that will also carry six tiny satellites of three foreign countries, weighing around 118 kilograms. These satellites will include four U.S. satellites, the official said. (PNA/Xinhua)

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