The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Friday launched its 42nd Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The PSLV-C40 is to place 31 satellites, originating from seven countries, across two orbits.
The C40 was launched from the First Launch Pad of the ISRO’s SDSC Srikarikota High Altitude Range at 9.29 a.m. Its primary payload was the fourth satellite in the advanced remote sensing Cartosat-2 series.
The Cartosat-2, whose imagery will be used to develop various land and geographical information system applications, weighs 710 kg and was to be placed in a circular polar sun synchronous orbit 505 km from Earth. The satellite’s design life is five years. The 30 co-passenger satellites together weigh 613 kg.
It was the two other Indian satellites in the C40’s payload that generated the most excitement. Both were called technology demonstrators, indicating significant strides towards miniaturisation.
The microsatellite is of the 100 kg class. “This is a technology demonstrator and the forerunner for future satellites of this series,” according to the ISRO.
The nanosatellite, named Indian Nano Satellite – 1C, is the third in its series; its predecessors were part of the PSLV-C37 launch of February 2017. The INS-1C, whose mission life is six months, carries the Miniature Multispectral Technology Demonstration payload from the Space Applications Centre. “With a capability to carry up to 3 kg of payload and a total satellite mass of 11 kg, it offers immense opportunities for future use,” according to the ISRO.
Those two, ones for the future, dovetailed into their 28 co-passengers, which originated in six countries and were launched as part of deals made by ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited. Three of them were microsatellites while 25 were nanosatellites. There were 19 satellites from the United States and five from South Korea; UK, France, Canada and Finland had a satellite each within PSLV-C40. The CMD of Antrix had told The Hindu that the C40 carried three important proof-of-concept microsats.
The ISRO had seen its previous launch of August 31, 2017 being recorded as a failure. The heat shield of PSLV-C39 did not separate, resulting in satellite separation occurring within the shield. It was only the second total failure of the PSLV in nearly 24 years: the PSLV-D1, in its maiden flight, had failed on September 20, 1993.