Bengaluru Startup Pixxel’s Satellite Will Not Fly On ISRO PSLV C51 This February End

Bengaluru Startup Pixxel’s Satellite Will Not Fly On ISRO PSLV C51 This February EndISRO PSLV C51 in preparation for launch on 28 February. (Photo: ISRO)
  • India’s first private commercial satellite will not be able to board the upcoming ISRO PSLV C51 launch at the end of February.

India will have to wait longer to get its first commercial private satellite in orbit.

Pixxel announced today (23 February) that it will not fly its satellite on board the PSLV C51 mission scheduled for 28 February.

The cause of delay is the emergence of software issues during the final satellite testing.

“Given the time and effort that has gone into making the satellite, it did not make sense to rush a satellite to launch in which we do not have complete confidence at this time,” Pixxel said on Twitter.

“We have thus decided to push our launch by a few weeks, reevaluate the satellite software, and test it rigorously over the next few weeks as we look for the next closest launch opportunity,” the update continued.

Pixxel founder and CTO Kshitij Khandelwal took to Twitter to express his disappointment and resolved to fix the issue soon and get the satellite up and ready for next launch.

“Sorry to disappoint with this delay on our first mission. Feels super shitty but we need to be sure before the space test,” he wrote.

“Current priority is to ensure that our SILS is in line and we have 100% fully functional software ready to go. We’ll make it happen and get up there soon.”

Founder and chief executive Awais Ahmed too chimed in on Twitter. He struck an optimistic tone.

"... the satellite will go up, it will work and it will beam down some of the best imagery that’s ever been beamed down - that much I promise you," Ahmed tweeted.

Pixxel’s technology demonstration satellite “Anand” will look to go up in orbit and then beam down good quality data from space. This data will essentially be a picture of the Earth.

If it can do that, it would complete its mission, Khandelwal told online news website Moneycontrol mid-January this year.

Manufacturing of the satellite began in July 2019 and was wrapped up by 2020. Testing followed thereafter and, despite the pandemic slowing down the progress, Pixxel was gearing up to complete its tests and be ready for the early 2021 launch.

It was scheduled to go up in orbit along with two other Indian satellites and a milestone Brazilian remote-sensing satellite, but software issues will now peg its lift-off back until the next launch window opens up.

The PSLV launch, though, is slated to take off on 28 February at 10.24 am, Indian Standard Time, with the rest of the payload.

Pixxel is planning to install a fleet of 30 Earth-imaging satellites in orbit by 2023. This constellation will provide global coverage every 24 hours. The data collected will be received at terrestrial data centres and put through algorithms and models to extract specific insights.

Domains such as agriculture, oil and gas, urban monitoring, climate control, and forestry are said to benefit from the satellite data.

Also Read:
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Skyroot Aerospace Signs Up With ISRO; They Now Get Access To ISRO Facilities, Technical Expertise
Bengaluru-Based SatSure, Bellatrix Aerospace Team Up To Install Satellite Fleet In Orbit Starting December 2022

Karan Kamble writes on science and technology. He occasionally wears the hat of a video anchor for Swarajya's online video programmes.


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