Indian Space Research Organisation Launches Two British Earth Observation Satellites

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched two British earth observation satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on board the PSLV.


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sept. 16 successfully put into orbit two British earth observation satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C-42 rocket. This was the PSLV’s 44th flight and the 12th flight of the Core Alone version of the rocket. Core Alone is its lightest version without the six strap-on motors and is used for launching smaller payloads.

The two satellites — NovaSAR-1, a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, and SSTL S1-4, a high-resolution optical Earth Observation satellite — were made by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), a small satellite manufacturer based at Guildford in the United Kingdom. The launch was carried out under an arrangement by SSTL and Antrix Corporation, ISRO’s commercial arm.

NovaSAR-1 will be the world’s first commercial SAR satellite to be operated at a 10:30 equator crossing time, providing time diversity for radar observations by affording increased daylight imaging opportunities in addition to night acquisitions, SSTL said. The satellite, with an S-Band payload, has a dedicated maritime mode designed with a very wide swath area of 400km to enable the monitoring of the marine environment and will provide direct radar ship detection information simultaneously with AIS ship tracking data to assist with the identification and tracking of sea-going vessels. Besides, the satellite will be used for flood monitoring and agricultural and forestry mapping.

S1-4 is a high-resolution Optical Earth Observation Satellite that will be used for surveying resources, environment monitoring, urban management, and disaster monitoring.

Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL said in a statement, “I am pleased to confirm that successful contact has been made with both satellites and they are in good health. I would like to thank the Indian Space Research Organization and Antrix for a successful launch which achieves our long-held ambition to deliver low cost SAR remote sensing capabilities and services to our global customers and enhances our Earth observation capabilities with a sub-one-meter optical mission.”

An ISRO statement said: “The PSLV-C42 lifted off from the First Launch Pad at 10.08 pm (IST). Both satellites were injected into the Sun Synchronous Orbit, about 17 minutes later, at an altitude of 583 km.”

ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan expressed his happiness with the launch. “This was a unique night mission executed for the first time by us. The PSLV has proven yet again as a user-friendly vehicle in all aspects. The credit goes to the entire ISRO team and industries. This success will give added energy for industries to make PSLV by themselves. We are going to have 18 missions in the next six months, virtually one launch every two weeks,” he said.

This is ISRO’s first dedicated commercial launch in several months and Antrix hopes to increase the frequency of such missions in the future, the Times of India reported.

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