The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched a sounding rocket to study attitudinal variations in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics from the Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh. Sounding rockets are one or two-stage solid propellant rockets used for probing the upper atmospheric regions and for space research. They also serve as easily affordable platforms to test or prove prototypes of new components or subsystems intended for use in launch vehicles and satellites. ISRO has developed a series of sounding rockets called the Rohini series, and the important ones among them being RH-200, RH-300 and RH-560. The number in the name indicates the diameter of the rocket in mm, according to the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency. "Launch of sounding rocket (RH-560) to study attitudinal variations in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics carried out today (Friday) at SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota," ISRO tweeted. The launch of the first sounding rocket from Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala on 21 November 1963, marked the beginning of the Indian Space Programme. Sounding rockets made it possible to probe the atmosphere in situ using rocket-borne instrumentation. The first rockets were two-stage rockets imported from Russia (M-100) and France (Centaure). While the M-100 could carry a payload of 70 kg to an altitude of 85 km, the Centaure was capable of reaching 150 km with a payload of approximately 30 kg. ISRO started launching indigenously made sounding rockets in 1965 and the experience gained was of immense value in the mastering of solid propellant technology. In 1975, all sounding rocket activities were consolidated under the Rohini Sounding Rocket (RSR) Programme. ISRO has said that the sounding rocket programme was the bedrock on which the edifice of launch vehicle technology in ISRO could be built. “It is possible to conduct coordinated campaigns by simultaneously launching sounding rockets from different locations. It is also possible to launch several sounding rockets in a single day,” ISRO has said.