2019 is the year nano-satellites will deliver internet access to all, Forbes magazine predicted in November 2018.
A couple of months later, India signed up to train 45 countries in small satellite making; two months after that, in a historic launch on April 1, 2019, India launched 28 international nano-satellites along with the homegrown
ISRO’s PSLV C45 lifted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at 9:27 AM, Monday, in a mission that could see the space agency manoeuvering satellites of global customers in various orbits and orbital experiments, including on maritime satellite applications and systems to detect enemy radar.
At the end of a 27-hour countdown on Monday, ISRO used a new variant of the dependable Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-QL) to launch these satellites from its second launch pad at the Sriharikota spaceport. In this ongoing mission, ISRO scientists will be placing the satellites and payloads in three different orbits.
DRDO’s electronic intelligence
Thirteen of the 28 nanosats, injected into orbits in its PS4-fourth stage, were in orbit by 11:20 AM according to the space agency. These third-party satellites have been launched under commercial arrangements, the ISRO said.
Orbital experiments onboard
This is the first time ISRO is this close to providing a micro-gravity environment for research
The three missions sent aboard the PSLV C45 craft were designed by students and a startup. Exceed Space, for one, made history by becoming India’s first private company (and second ever) to go to space, where it will test the feasibility of a new way to clean up space debris—a cause for growing concern after every launch.
After the PS-4 adjusts itself into its track at 500km altitude, it will house three experiments inside it for 5-6 months in microgravity, according to FirstPost.
An Advanced Retarding Potential Analyzer for Ionospheric Studies (ARIS) from Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) in Kerala has made it to the mission, besides an Automatic Identification System (AIS) from ISRO and an Automatic Packet Repeating System (APRS) from Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation, India.
Why ISRO needs to think small
Nano-satellites are small satellites weighing between 1-10 kg, with smaller guidance systems, altitude controls, computers, sensors, and solar panels. Although the technology has been around for quite some time, its potential to disrupt global telecommunications especially in lower-income economies is finally getting its due recognition.
A system of 200 nanosatellites is believed to do the trick in creating a global network of reliable and affordable internet and telecommunications services, helping reach the unreachable. Not only is the operational cost significantly less,
With frequent failures of large government satellites—packed with multiple state-of-the-art sensors to provide exquisite detail of the space weather environment,
That said, the small-satellite industry is presently booming with
By entering the business of launching third-party satellites into space, ISRO’s small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) programme has finally received the boost it needs to stay in orbit.
India’s space aspirations and achievements
Nanosats which were used predominantly for affordable remote sensing until now,
India which is en route to complete
In January this year, ISRO launched a programme named Unispace Nanosatellite Assembly and Training by ISRO (UNNATI) to “share its knowledge and expertise in space sector to other countries that can benefit from it.”
This is another first for the space agency, a week after it made history with the DRDO in achieving anti-satellite missile (A-SAT)
In a similar mission last November, ISRO launched India’s first earth observation Hyperspectral Imaging Satellite (HySIS) and 30 commercial foreign satellites, including one micro and 29 nanosatellites that are currently engaged in earth observation, communication, Internet of things (IoT), and scientific experiments from various countries.
Prarthana Mitra is a Staff Writer at Qrius
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