The Indian Space Research Organisation’s workhorse rocket system, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), delivered its 53rd successful mission on Sunday by launching Amazonia-1, a 637-kg commercial remote sensing satellite for the Brazilian space research agency INPE, and 18 co-passenger satellites.
ISRO chairman K Sivan described the launch of the Amazonia-1 satellite on the PSLV-C51 and its insertion into a sun synchronous orbit as being “precise” at the end of a 17.23-minute launch sequence at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on Sunday morning.
Former Brazilian astronaut and Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Cesar Pontes, who was present at the launch with scientists from INPE, said the successful launch marks a “new era for Brazilian industry for satellite development in Brazil”.
The Amazonia-1 remote sensing satellite is the first satellite designed, developed and launched by the Brazilian space research agency and is intended to monitor deforestation and agricultural activities in the Amazon region in Brazil.
The satellite has been under development in Brazil for nearly two decades.
“We have been working on this satellite for many years and this is the culmination of all the efforts. The satellite has a very important mission for Brazil — first of all, to monitor the country, the Amazon and bio reserves in the country,” the minister Cesar Pontes said after the launch.
“India and ISRO feel extremely proud and honoured to launch the first satellite designed, integrated and operated by Brazil,” the ISRO chairman K Sivan said.
The launch on Sunday was also the first full-fledged commercial satellite launch for New Space India Limited (NSIL), a commercial arm of ISRO created in 2019 to commercialise ISRO research and capabilities. The NSIL has in the past had three launches involving auxiliary small satellites and the launch on Sunday is the first involving a primary commercial payload.
The PSLV-C51 rocket with Amazonia-1 as the main payload also carried 18 small satellites as co-passengers with five being Indian satellites and 13 from the US. Four of the co-passenger satellites were signed for launch by IN-SPACe, ISRO’s small satellites facilitation agency, and 14 were signed up through NSIL for commercial launch.
Among the five Indian small satellites launched on the PSLV-C51, three are UNITYsats built by students from the Jeppiaar Institute of Technology, Sriperumbudur, G.H. Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur, and Sri Shakti Institute of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore, and a fourth one called the Satish Dhawan Sat (SDSAT) was built by the firm Space Kidz India.
The UNITYsats will provide radio relay services while the SDSAT, a nano satellite, will study radiation, space weather and demonstrate long-range communication tech, ISRO said.
“These satellites are a result of the new space reforms announced by the government, and ISRO promoted and handheld the teams. I am sure this mission will enthuse other academic institutions and industries to build satellites,” the ISRO chairman said.
The fifth Indian satellite on the launch was the Sindhu Netra, a commercial payload to demonstrate technology.
The commercial small satellites from the US on board the PSLV-C51 were SAI-1 Nano Connect 2, a technology demonstrator, and 12 SpaceBEEs for two-way satellite communication and data relay.
The PSLV-C51 launch was the 53rd flight of the PSLV and the third in a new power configuration.
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