NELLORE: Entering the new-age of space commerce, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday launched 19 satellites into space from Brazil, the USA and India with textbook precision in its first launch of the year.
This was the first dedicated mission of Isro’s commercial arm NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a public sector unit set up under the department of space in 2019. Sunday’s mission was under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc, a satellite ride-share and mission management provider based in Seattle.
The satellites were hoisted by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C51) rocket, which lifted off from the spaceport at Sriharikota. This was one of the longest flights of the PSLV and lasted one hour, 55 minutes and seven seconds.
The rocket carried Brazil's 637-kg Amazonia-1 satellite, ‘Sindhu Netra’, a technology demonstrator satellite from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), 13 from the USA and four others from India, taking off from the first launch-pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at 10.24 am.
Seventeen minutes after the launch, the rocket injected Amazonia-1 into its intended orbit and in the succeeding one hour 38 minutes, released the other satellites into orbit.
Among these, the Satish Dhawan Sat (SDSAT) from Space Kidz India carried an engraved picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as a digital copy of the Bhagavad Gita.
Congratulating his team for the precise launch of the rocket and orbiting the satellites, Isro chairman Dr K. Sivan said “India and Isro feel extremely proud and honoured to launch the first satellite designed, integrated and operated by Brazil.”
Brazilian science and technology minister Marcos Cesar Pontes said “Amazonia-1 is an important mission for Brazil which also marks the beginning of a new era for satellite development in the country." He emphasised the importance of the partnership between India and Brazil and said they were looking forward to strengthening ties with India.
Narayanan G, chairman, and managing director, NSIL thanked INPE Brazil for choosing Isro and NSIL’s strength and Spaceflight Inc, USA for facilitating this mission.
Amazonia-1 is an optical earth observation satellite of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). It will provide remote sensing data to monitor deforestation in the Amazon region and analyse diversified agriculture across Brazil.
The co-passenger satellites included four from IN-SPACe and 14 from NSIL — a commercial satellite from India and 13 from the US. Of the four satellites from IN-SPACe, three were UNITYsats designed and built as a joint development by Jeppiaar Institute of Technology, Sriperumbudur, G.H. Raisoni College of Engineering, Nagpur, and Sri Shakti Institute of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore.
Dr Sivan appreciated the efforts of the teams in building the satellites.
"These satellites were the fruition of the new space reforms announced by the government of India wherein Isro promoted and handheld the teams. I’m sure this mission will inspire other academic institutions and industries to build satellites." he said.