The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has slated its next launch mission, an Earth observation satellite, tentatively for August. The last one was in April.
The upcoming episode will include 25 to 30 small secondary foreign satellites as passengers on the light payload lifting rocket, PSLV-C42.
The partly commercial launch is somewhat similar to the January 12 event in which a PSLV rocket (flight C-40) put 28 customer satellites to space along with Cartosat-2E and two small Indian satellites.
“We are looking at including 25 to 30 small satellites of foreign customers in the next PSLV launch depending on the configuration. They may total 250 kg,” said Rakesh Sasibhushan, Chairman and Managing Director of Antrix Corporation Ltd, which exports ISRO’s products and services.
C-42 would have new customers as well as repeat users of the Indian launch vehicle, he told The Hindu. The main load in it from ISRO could weigh around 800-1,000 kg.
Mr. Sasibhushan said the international launch market was “looking very good” and Antrix had sought two fully commercial launches (i.e., without an ISRO satellite) each year from the space agency.
Dedicated commercial missions — those that put a large single customer satellite to space — earn more money per flight than from lifting many tiny satellites to space at once.
This year, there would be only `piggyback’ customer rides such as C-40 or C-42 with a primary ISRO satellite. However, “Antrix has contracted three dedicated customer satellites [which will be sent to space in] the next four years and is discussing some more probables,” he said.
To date the PSLV has launched 237 foreign customer satellites, a few of them in singles. C-42 will be the fourth mission of 2018 and the third PSLV mission.
Around this time, ISRO had planned to launch the large, 5,400-kg communication satellite GSAT-11 on an European launcher but brought it back from French Guiana to its Bengaluru facility for a confirmation test. The satellite awaits a new launch date, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan earlier said.