The Indian Space Research Organisation on Thursday successfully launched PSLV-C53 which placed three Singapore satellites in orbits. The fourth stage of the rocket then turned into an orbital platform for scientific experiments as it began to circle the Earth.
It is Isro’s second mission this year. It was the second dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL).
At 6.02pm, PSLV, in its 55th mission and 15th mission using PSLV-Core Alone variant, lifted off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
Around 18 minutes after the lift-off, the rocket injected the three Singapore satellites into their respective orbits.
Isro chairman S Somanath said, “PSLV-C53 has placed the satellites in precise orbits. I thank NSIL for yet another mission. Many more missions are on the way for our customers all over the globe.”
The satellites include DS-EO, a 365kg electro-optic, multi spectral payload that will provide full colour images for land classification and serve humanitarian assistance and disaster relief needs. The second satellite is 155kg NueSAR, Singapore’s first small commercial satellite carrying a SAR payload and can provide images in day and night and under all weather conditions. The third satellite is 2.8kg Scoob-1, the first in the student satellite series (S3-I), a hands-on student training programme from the Satellite Research Centre (SaRC) at Singapore’s NTU School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
After the satellites were injected, the PS4 or the fourth stage of PSLV turned into an orbital platform -- PSLV Orbital Experimental Module (POEM) -- to perform in-orbit scientific experiments. According to Isro officials, it is for the first time that the PS4 stage is orbiting the Earth as a stabilised platform. POEM is carrying six payloads, including those from two Indian space start-ups -- Digantara and Dhruva Space -- enabled through IN-SPACe and NSIL.
The Isro chairman said, "After the primary mission, the PSLV fourth stage is going to write some poems in orbit. The POEM is going to be functional after this taking over the control of the primary mission computer to another computer. The fourth stage will be powered, generating power on board and will be stabilised with altitude control. It will host some experiments by some of young startups enabled by IN-SPACe.”
POEM will derive power from the solar panels mounted around the PS4 tank and a lithium-ion battery. It will navigate using four sun sensors, a magnetometer, gyros and NavIC. It carries a dedicated control thruster using helium gas storage and is enabled with a telecommand feature.
Mission director S R Biju said PSLV was in a different configuration this time. “It is the Core Alone version. We are coming back with this variant after a pretty long time. We had to introduce some changes to improve the production of PSLV so that we can meet the growing demand of customers which we have implemented and it has yielded results.”
Biju said, “It is continuing its mission. We will take over PSLV, give some energy to PS4 and try to do some very cost-effective experiments which can satisfy the growing demand of startups, our student community and our scientific community. Left to itself, it [PS-4] would have taken its own course, tumbled, wobbled or it would have somersaulted. But given some more energy, probably we will be able to continue the active PS-4 for some more time, so that the platform is available. All the resources are available. You keep some scientific payloads there so that it can serve a secondary purpose also.”
He said, “The idea for this mission was conceptualised in a record time of three months. It is effectively two missions rolled into one mission. Huge effort has gone into this from all centres of Isro.”
Public watch launch
Isro had invited the media and the public to watch the launch live from Sriharikota spaceport after two and a half years. The general public watched the launch from the visitors’ gallery near SDSC. The last launch the media and the public were invited was on December 11, 2019 for PSLV-C48/RISAT-2BR1 mission.
Credit: The TImes of India
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