Launch of advanced multi-purpose Cartosat-3 satellite

Chennai: The countdown for the launch of India’s advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3 using the rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-XL (PSLV-XL) is progressing smoothly, said an official of the Indian space agency.

The rocket is scheduled to blast off from the second launch pad at 9.28 a.m. on Wednesday. The 26-hour countdown for the launch began at 7.28 a.m. on Tuesday.

According to ISRO, the Cartosat-3 is an advanced agile satellite to obtain panchromatic and multispectral imagery with an operational life of five years.

The payload has the capability of take sharp pictures with a ground resolution of 0.25 metre in Panchromatic and 1metre ground resolution or ground sample distance (GSD) in 4 Band Multispectral modes with a swath of 16 km, said ISRO.

The Indian space agency also said, Cartosat-3 has many new technologies/elements like highly agile structural platform, payload platform, higher rate data handling and transmission systems, advanced onboard computer and new power electronics, dual gimbal antenna and others.

To be placed in an orbit of 509 km at an inclination of 97.5 degrees, the Cartosat-3 will furnish images that cater to the demand of urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover and also for strategic/defence purposes.

The Indian space agency officials used to say that they would supply the required images for various agencies. It is for the user agency to decide on the image use.

Sharing the ride with Cartosat-3 will be 13 nano satellites from the USA for an undisclosed 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.

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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 lines of business, 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.


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