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India Launches Five Satellites Into Orbit

India's ambitions of developing a successful commercial space program received a boost Monday with the successful launch of five satellites into orbit.

The domestically-built Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle put the five satellites into space from the Sriharikota space center on India's east coast. The satellites included an advanced remote sensing satellite and small satellites from Algeria, Canada and Switzerland.

The head of the Indian Space Research Organization, K. Radhakrishnan called it a perfect launch.

"I am extremely happy to say, we had excellent flight," he said.

Indian space scientists hail Monday's launch as an example of advances being made by the country's space program. Officials said they are also making progress to master a more complex technology which will make it possible to launch heavier satellites.

The country has been competing to get a larger share of a multi-billion dollar market for launching commercial satellites, offering launch services at cheaper rates than the United States or Russia.

But its ambitions of being able to put heavy satellites into space suffered a setback in April, when a rocket using a domestically built cryogenic engine crashed soon after it lifted off.

Cryogenic engines are rocket motors designed for fuels held at very low temperatures. India has been trying to learn the restricted technology for nearly two decades. Only five countries possess it.

On Monday, ISRO chairman Radhakrishnan held out hope that India may soon overcome the snag it has encountered in cryogenic engine technology.

"We have understood the problem with regard to the indigenous cryogenic engine end stage. We will confirm it in a few weeks with a few tests and we will come back," Radhakrishnan said.

India wants to emerge as a major space-faring nation and its road map for its space program is ambitious, despite a few recent setbacks. An unmanned mission to the moon, launched in 2008, was aborted last year after contact with the craft was lost. However, India called the mission a success, saying it completed most scientific studies and even gathered evidence of water on the moon's surface.

In 2013, scientists plan to send another unmanned mission to the moon. This will be followed by the country's first manned mission to space in 2016.