ISRO has successfully launched its third-generation earth-imaging satellite CARTOSAT 3 into space from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The launch will enhance India's ability in high-resolution imaging and also reinforce India as a global launch destination for small satellites using its workhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Besides the CARTOSAT 3 satellite, the PSLV C-47 rocket carried 13 nano satellites from the US, roped in through the new commercial arm New Space India. This would have the most advanced spatial resolution capability in our observation satellites.
- The Cartosat 3 follows similar launches in an earlier series deployed for cartography (map-making applications), infrastructure planning, coastal land use and regulation, road-network monitoring and more importantly, change detection in bringing out geographical and man-made features. The mission life of these satellites were five years.
- The CARTOSAT 3 is a 3-axis agile satellite with a spatial resolution parameter of 0.25 m, an advancement from the previous series, which had the parameter at less than 1 m.
- Among the American satellites aboard is a technical demonstration spacecraft from US-based company Analytical Space Inc, which enables users to fain faster access to satellite data.
- American satellite rideshare coordinator SpaceFlight, which facilitated the payload purchase for Analytical Space, had said last month it would complete 100 spacecraft launches on ISRO vehicles by the end of 2019. ISRO’s forthcoming launches in December have more satellites coordinated by SpaceFlight.
- While the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has attracted deals with foreign firms to accommodate satellites from countries such as France, Canada, and the US through its first commercial arm Antrix, the commercial satellites aboard the PSLV C-47 have arrived through agreements through the second commercial entity New Space India, set up in March this year.
- Through Antrix, ISRO has completed 239 deals over the last three years and earned operational revenue over Rs 6,280 crore.
- The Cartosat 3 is the most advanced earth observation satellite built by ISRO.
- The space agency has 13 missions, six launch vehicle events and seven satellite missions, slated till March next year.
India crosses 300 foreign satellite launch mark
- India crossed the milestone of launching 300 foreign satellites on 27 November 2019 morning when its rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-XL (PSLV-XL) puts into orbit 13 nano satellites from the US.
- The American satellites are piggy backing on the rocket's main luggage, India's advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3.
- Before today, India with its PSLV rocket has put into orbit 297 foreign satellites. When the PSLV rocket on 27 November 2019 puts into orbit 13 American nano satellites then the total number of foreign satellites that India has launched will touch 310.
- Curiously, the order to launch the American satellites was bagged by the NewSpace India Limited formed only in March 2019, with an almost identical business plan to that of Antrix Corporation, the first commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
- Since its incorporation in 1992, Antrix Corporation has handled such third party satellite launch contracts, leasing of communication satellite transponders, marketing of data from remote sensing satellites, building and marketing of satellites as well as satellite mission support services, and establishing ground infrastructure for space applications.
- In addition to the above lines of business, NewSpace India will also be the nodal agency for the production of PSLV and Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) through industry consortiums and partners.
- The 1,625 kg Cartosat-3, India's new earth observation satellite will send sharp, clear images for urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover and also for strategic/defence purposes.
- The Indian space agency officials said they would supply the required images for various agencies. It is for the user agency to decide on the image use.
- The images captured by the satellite can also be used for surveillance purposes while ISRO is silent on this aspect.
- The satellite's payload has the capability of taking sharp pictures with a ground resolution of 0.25 metre in Panchromatic and 1 metre ground resolution or ground sample distance (GSD) in 4 Band Multispectral modes with a swath of 16 km.
- Cartosat-3 has many new technologies/elements like highly agile structural platform, payload platform, higher rate data handling and transmission systems, advanced onboard computer and new power electronics, dual gimbal antenna and others.
- The PSLV-XL rocket standing around 44.4 metres tall and weighing about 320 tons with a one-way ticket will hurtle itself towards the skies ferrying Cartosat-3 and the American satellites.
- About 17 minutes into the flight the rocket will eject Cartosat-3 into an orbit of 509 km at an inclination of 97.5 degrees.
- Soon after, the first of the American nano satellites will be put into orbit. The final nano satellite will be ejected into its intended orbit at about 27 minutes from the rocket's lift-off.
- According to ISRO, 12 of the US nano satellites, named as FLOCK-4P, are earth observation satellites and the 13th is called MESHBED, a communication test bed satellite.
- The PSLV-XL is a four stage/engine expendable rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively. The rocket has six strap-on booster motors to give additional thrust during the initial flight stages.