Several tiny high-tech Canadian satellites are now in orbit following the successful launch of an Indian rocket.

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on the island of Sriharikota, off India's east coast near Chennai, at 7:31 a.m. ET Monday (6:01 p.m. local time), the Indian Space Research Organisation reported.

The rocket carried:

  • The Canadian Space Agency's suitcase-sized NEOSsat satellite, which will look for asteroids and track satellites and space debris.
  • The Sapphire satellite, which is the Canadian Department of National Defence's first dedicated operational military satellite. It is about double the mass of NEOSsat.
  • Two lunch-box sized BRITE satellites, developed as an international project funded mainly by Austria, but drawing heavily on Canadian technological expertise. They are equipped with the smallest astronomical telescope ever built, which is designed to study some of the brightest stars in the sky.

Also on board the rocket were:

  • The SARAL satellite, a joint French-Indian mission designed to study ocean circulation and sea surface elevation.
  • A three-kilogram Danish satellite that will test the feasibility of receiving identification signals from ships in the Arctic.
  • A 6.5-kilogram satellite from the U.K. designed to test mobile phone electronics in space.

The rocket launched the satellites into a polar sun synchronous orbit — one that passes over both poles and brings the satellite over the same Earth latitude at the same time each day — 785 kilometres above the surface.