The 26-hour countdown for the launch of Indian rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-XL (PSLV-XL) with 14 satellites began on Tuesday morning at India’s rocket port at the Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh, Indian space agency said.
According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the countdown for the launch of PSLV-XL rocket carrying India’s Cartosat-3 and 13 nanosatellites from the US began at 7.28 a.m.
The rocket is scheduled to blast off from the second launch pad at 9.28 a.m. on Wednesday.
While the main luggage will be India’s 1,625 kg Cartosat-3 satellite, 13 nanosatellites from the US will be sharing the ride for a fee to be paid to NewSpace India Ltd — the new commercial arm of ISRO.
About 17 minutes into its flight, the PSLV rocket will first sling into orbit Cartosat-3 which will have a mission life of five years.
According to ISRO, Cartosat-3 is a third generation agile advanced satellite having high resolution imaging capability. To be placed in an orbit of 509 km at an inclination of 97.5 degrees, the satellite will furnish images that cater to the demand of urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover and others.
At about a minute later, the first of the 13 US nano satellites will be put into orbit. The final nano satellite will be ejected into its intended orbit at 26 minutes and 50 seconds from the lift-off of the PSLV rocket.
According to ISRO, 12 of the US nano satellites are named as FLOCK-4P are earth observation satellites and the 13th is called MESHBED, a communication test bed satellite.
The 44-metre-tall, about 320 ton PSLV-XL is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuels alternatively. The rocket has six strap-on booster motors to give additional thrust during the initial flight stages.
However, what is intriguing is the first commercial order to put into orbit 13 American nanosatellites for NewSpace India which was formed only in March 2019 with its business plan identical to that of Antrix Corporation, the first commercial arm of ISRO.
Since its incorporation in 1992, Antrix Corporation has handled such third party satellite launch contracts, leasing of communication satellite transponders, marketing of data from remote sensing satellites, building and marketing of satellites as well as satellite mission support services, and establishing ground infrastructure for space applications.
In addition to the above businesslines, NewSpace India will also be the nodal agency for production of PSLV and Small Satellite Launch Vehicles (SSLV) through industry consortiums and partners.
Whether the new company is a result of Antrix Corporation losing its arbitration case overseas and facing huge payout as damages to Devas Multimedia for cancellation of contract, is not known.