Anand, Thybolt Satellites Headline ISRO’s Latest Successful Launch
Just over a week ago, India’s first-ever private rocket launch was also accomplished successfully.
India’s polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) lifted off from the first launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SDSC SHAR), as planned, at 11.56 am today.
The 44.4-metre-tall rocket ferried a total of nine satellites to two different Sun-synchronous polar orbits on its 56th mission called “PSLV-C54/EOS-06.” EOS is short for Earth-observation satellite. This was the 24th flight of the PSLV-XL version with 6 PSOM-XLs.
The launch comes close on the heels of , implemented by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), last Friday (18 November).
While the Oceansat-3 was the major satellite on board PSLV-C54/EOS-06, alongside the India-Bhutan satellite, much of the heat around the mission came from the launch of three satellites by two Indian space technology companies Pixxel and Dhruva Space.
The primary satellite Oceansat-3 is the third in the series of India’s satellites aimed at ocean observations, specifically the study of the biological parameters of oceans.
It is with an ocean colour monitor (OCM-3), Ku-band scatterometre (SCAT-3), and sea surface temperature monitor (SSTM), and has been given a mission life of five years.
The predecessor, , was launched by PSLV-C14 on 23 September 2009 with a mission life of five years. It is still operational in the Sun-synchronous orbit.
Oceansat-3 was separated from the rocket in orbit 1, after which the orbit-change thrusters kicked in to perform the role suggested by the name — change of orbit.
The passenger payloads were then separated in orbit 2.
Among the passenger satellites accompanying Oceansat-3 were the ISRO Nano Satellite-2 for Bhutan (INS-2B), Anand, and Thybolt 1 and 2.
INS-2B has two payloads — a multispectral optical imaging instrument developed by ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC, Ahmedabad) and a digital repeater jointly developed by Bhutan’s Department of Information Technology and Telecom (DITT Bhutan) and India’s U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC, Bengaluru).
Anand is a technology demonstrator nanosatellite by Pixxel, based in Bengaluru (plus California, the United States). It will test out a miniaturised camera for earth observation using a microsatellite in low-Earth orbit.
The startup had its first space launch with American aerospace company SpaceX, when its hyperspectral imaging satellite “Shakuntala” was placed in the intended orbit in April 2022.
Anand is Pixxel’s third hyperspectral satellite. “It’s our third satellite in space. But it’s special because it was the first satellite we ever got our hands dirty on,“ Pixxel founder and chief executive Awais Ahmed said.
The two Thybolt satellites are by Hyderabad-based (plus Graz, Austria) Dhruva Space.
A Dhruva Space payload (DSOD-1U) was part of the previous PSLV mission, PSLV-C53. The successful test, and therefore space qualification, of Dhruva's satellite orbital deployer (DSOD-1U) on that mission at the end of June this year paved the way for the Thybolt satellites that flew on PSLV-C54.
The DSOD deployed the Thybolt 1 and 2 satellites, which are amateur radio (ham radio) communication nanosatellites, with a mission life of one year. The Thybolt Mission is by various ham radio clubs across India.
“Many of Team Dhruva Space have a passion for amateur radio, therefore we wish to extend the ability of conducting amateur satellite communication activities to amateur operators who have helped us come this far, while also enabling many more amateurs to operate, test and learn in the course of this mission,” Dhruva Space chief executive Sanjay Nekkanti had said ahead of launch.
The rest of the passenger satellites were the four Astrocast nano satellites, by Spaceflight Inc USA, for the demonstration of the Internet of Things (IoT) applications.
"The launch of 3 satellites from Indian companies @PixxelSpace and @DhruvaSpace heralds the beginning of a new era, where Indian talent in space technology can be fully realized," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, congratulating ISRO and NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) for the successful launch.
Just over a week ago, India’s first-ever private rocket launch was accomplished successfully, with the launch of Skyroot Aerospace’s Vikram-S single-stage suborbital space launch vehicle, named after the founder of the Indian space programme, Dr Vikram Sarabhai.
“Mission Prarambh” thus marked a great ‘beginning’ for India's private space technology sector.
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