Shortly after the launch of a record 104 satellites on February 15 by the Indian Space Research Organisation’s workhorse PSLV rocket, the US start-up Planet Labs which owned 88 of the 104 satellites tweeted: “Happy to report that all of the 88 Doves are happy, healthy, and rotating in real-time!’’
Happy to report that all of the 88 Doves are happy, healthy, and rotating in real-time! pic.twitter.com/4xe8vWZnJr
— Planet (@planetlabs) February 15, 2017
While the 101 foreign satellites that flew on the PSLV C37 on February 15 and ISRO’s own 714 kg Cartosat-2 mapping satellite have stabilised and reported back to Earth stations with the first bits of data, two experimental Indian nano satellites – INS-1A and INS-1B weighing 8.4 kg and 9.7 kg – are yet to achieve stability to begin operations.
The satellites were built by ISRO. The record breaking PSLV C 37 launch on February 15 had carried 88 nano satellites from Planet Labs, eight satellites from another US mapping start-up called Spire, one satellite each from the Netherlands, Israel, UAE, Kazakhstan and Switzerland, apart from the nano satellites and the Cartosat-2.
While ISRO has put out the first set of images taken by the Cartosat 2 series satellite, there has been no information about INS-1 A and INS 1-B since their launch even as data from some sites monitoring the satellites have indicated that the two have not stabilised despite over 10 days in space.
“Attempts are being made to stabilise the experimental nano satellites that were launched. The efforts are still on,’’ ISRO director for publicity D P Karnik said.
The two nano satellites are being monitored by the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru. The experimental nano satellites are carrying instruments from ISRO’s Space Application Centre and the Laboratory for Electro Optic Systems. The data gathered will be used for internal purposes.
“The nano satellites are an experimental class of satellites introduced by ISRO because there are many requests to use them for data collection for academic institutions. The universities do not have the knowledge to build satellites and tend to take a long time to build them. We want them to focus on the instruments since we can provide the nano satellite bus,’’ an ISRO official said. The ISRO official said ISTRAC was still in touch with the two small satellites launched 10 days ago.