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Isro places 3 Singapore satellites, 6 experiments in orbit in second launch this year

PSLV-C53 took off from Sriharikota at 6pm and injected the three satellites into precise orbits around 18 minutes later on Thursday.

Written by Anonna Dutt | New Delhi |
Updated: July 1, 2022 3:34:41 am
In addition to the international payloads, the rocket also carried six experiments in its fourth stage, including two from Indian startups Digantara and Dhruva Space. (Photo: Twitter/@isro)

The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Thursday successfully launched three Singaporean satellites in a commercial mission of the New Space India Limited. This was the second launch of the year by the space agency, the first one having placed an Indian Earth Observation Satellite in orbit in February. Along with the commercial satellites, the space agency also sent on board six in-orbit experiments mounted on the fourth stage of the rocket in the current mission.

On Thursday, the workhorse rocket of the country, PSLV-C53, took off from Sriharikota at 6pm and injected the three satellites into precise orbits around 18 minutes later. The launch vehicle flew in the core-alone configuration where no strap-on motors are used other than the four main engine stages.

The main payload of the mission was a 365 kg Singaporean DS-EO satellite, which is an electro-optic, earth-observation satellite capable of providing full-colour images for land classification and disaster-relief operations. The 155 kg NeuSAR satellite is its first small commercial satellite capable of providing images in the day or at night under all weather conditions. The third satellite was Nanyang Technical University’s 2.8kg Scoob-1, the first in the student satellite series for giving hands-on training for the university’s satellite research centre.

In addition to the international payloads, the rocket also carried six experiments in its fourth stage, including two from Indian startups Digantara and Dhruva Space. The PSLV Orbital Experiment Module (POEM) uses the spent fourth stage of the rocket as an in-orbit platform by adding solar panels, a battery, and a navigation control system. Usually, after putting the satellite in orbit, the rocket stages decay, return to the atmosphere and burn up. But, with the addition of a little power to keep the stage in orbit, they can be utilised for experiments.

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Isro chairperson S Somanath said, “After the primary mission, the PSLV 4 stage is now going to ride POEM in-orbit. The stage will be generating power, stabilised with attitude control and also having certain experiments hosted by some of the young startups enabled by IN-SPACe.”

This is the second time that the space agency has utilised the stage for in-orbit experiments, the first time being in 2019 when the student organisation SpaceKidz India put its KalamSat on the rocket’s PS-4 stage.

In addition to the two launch missions, Isro, through its commercial arm, launched the heavy 4,180 kg GSAT-24 satellite aboard a vehicle from commercial launcher Ariane Space just a week ago. The satellite will provide pan-India coverage for DTH services and has been leased out to Tata Play.

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“Congratulations to NSIL for accomplishing yet another major mission in this month, June itself, the first being the GSAT 24 launch. Currently, the satellite is in orbit drifting to its intended location. I wish all the very best to NSIL for major missions to take up in the coming days using PSLV, and PSLV is waiting for that to happen,” said Somanath after the mission. This is also the second launch mission under his chairmanship.

The pandemic severely affected the launch schedules of the space agency – with just two launches in 2021 and 2022 undertaken so far. Experts state that the agency needs to increase its launch frequency if it wants to increase its share of the global space market. The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle that the agency designed specifically for on-demand commercial launches of small satellites is yet to undertake its maiden flight, with it being postponed several times.

 

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First published on: 30-06-2022 at 09:22:36 pm
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