ISRO set to launch 22 satellites on one rocket

Multiple satellite launch mission will flag ISRO’s capability

March 29, 2016 01:45 am | Updated October 18, 2016 01:12 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram:

CHENNAI, 18/01/2016 : The panaromic view of the fully integrated PSLV C-31 rocket at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Photo:  ISRO

CHENNAI, 18/01/2016 : The panaromic view of the fully integrated PSLV C-31 rocket at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Photo: ISRO

When the PSLV C34 rocket blasts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Srikarikota in May this year, it will signal another giant leap for India’s space mission. The trusted launch vehicle will inject 22 satellites into orbit, a first in the history of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

Apart from the Indian remote sensing satellite, Cartosat 2C, which constitutes the primary payload, the rocket will carry on board four micro-satellites weighing 85 to 130 kg each and 17 nano-satellites weighing 4 to 30 kg.

As many as 18 satellites are being launched for foreign agencies including those from the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Indonesia. Two of the nano-satellites have been developed by the Pune Engineering College and Sathyabhama University.

“The PSLV rocket, in its XL version, will be used for the mission,” VSSC Director K. Sivan said here on Monday. “The injection of so many satellites into orbit increases the complexity of the mission many fold,” he told reporters.

The micro-satellites include the M3MSAT of Comdev, Canada, to be used for collection and study of automatic identification system signals from low earth orbit, the Indonesian satellite LAPAN A3 for earth surveillance and magnetic field monitoring, the German satellite BIROS to be used for remote sensing of high temperature events and SKYSAT Gen2-1 of Skybox, U.S., for earth imaging.

The nano-satellite payload includes three quadpacks of four earth imaging technology demonstrator satellites each of Spaceflight, U.S., and a package of two Canadian satellites designed to measure greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

In April 2008, ISRO had launched 10 satellites into orbit using the PSLV C9 rocket.

RLV-TD test flight in May

The first test flight of the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) developed by ISRO is also scheduled for May. The technology demonstration version named RLV- TD is undergoing extensive tests at the VSSC complex here. “It will be transported to Bengaluru next week for acoustic tests before being taken to SHAR for the launch in May when atmospheric conditions are most favourable,” Dr. Sivan said.

Designed to drive down the cost of placing satellites in orbit, RLV is expected to enhance India’s competitive edge in the launch vehicle market. The first trial involves the hypersonic flight experiment during which the RLV resembling a small winged aircraft will be launched up to an altitude of 70 km from atop a solid booster rocket and released. The thermally insulated RLV will re enter the atmosphere and travel back to earth in a controlled descent, splashing down in the Bay of Bengal.

Preparations are also underway for the launch of the last of the seven satellites constituting the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation to be used for navigation. A PSLV rocket is scheduled to launch the satellite in April, Dr. Sivan said.

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