India successfully launches its first space observatory and 6 satellites into orbit

India says it has successfully launched its first space observatory and six satellites into orbit.

The Indian Space and Research Organization says the observatory, named Astrosat, was launched Monday from Sriharikota in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Astrosat will attempt a deeper study of the universe, especially star systems.

India's junior science minister, Y.S. Choudhury, says the launch of the observatory is part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision for India's space program.

Last September, India joined an elite club when it successfully guided its Mars Orbiter Mission into orbit around the red planet. In December, it launched the country's heaviest rocket, weighing 630 tons.

The launch vehicle that put Astrosat in orbit also carried satellites from Indonesia, Canada and the United States.