ISRO successfully launched Brazil’s optical earth observation satellite, Amazonia-1, and 18 co-passenger satellites from India  and the U.S.A.  from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR) at Sriharikota.
The satellites were carried on board the PSLV-C51, the 53rd flight of India’s workhorse launch vehicle and the first dedicated mission for New Space India Ltd (NSIL), the commercial arm of ISRO.
The mission was undertaken under a commercial arrangement with Spaceflight Inc., USA.
The PSLV-C51, equipped with two solid strap-on boosters, the third such launch of the PSLV-DL variant, lifted off from the first launch pad at Sriharikota.
PSLV-C51, the first dedicated launch by NSIL:
- PSLV-C51/Amazonia-1 is the first dedicated commercial mission of New Space India Limited (NSIL), a Government of India company under Department of Space.
- New Space India Limited (NSIL), the newly created second commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation, has bagged its first contract.
- The establishment of NSIL was announced in Budget 2019. One of the mandates of NSIL is to mass-produce and manufacture the SSLV and the more powerful PSLV in partnership with the private sector in India through technology transfers.
- Its aim is to use research and development carried out by ISRO over the years for commercial purposes through Indian industry partners.
- It differs from ISRO’s existing commercial arm Antrix Corporation. Antrix will handle ISRO’s commercial deals for satellites and launch vehicles with foreign customers.
- NSIL will deal with capacity building of local industry for space manufacturing.
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is an indigenously-developed expendable launch system of the ISRO.
It comes in the category of medium-lift launchers with a reach up to various orbits, including the Geo Synchronous Transfer Orbit, Lower Earth Orbit, and Polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.
All the operations of PSLV are controlled from the Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota.
Differences between PSLV and GSLV:
- India has two operational launchers- Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).
- PSLV is the third generation launch vehicle of India and the first Indian launch vehicle which is equipped with liquid stages.
- GSLV, on the other hand, is the fourth generation launch vehicle and is a three-stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons.
- PSLV was developed to launch low-Earth Orbit satellites into polar and sun synchronous orbits. It has since proved its versatility by launching geosynchronous, lunar and interplanetary spacecraft successfully.
- On the other hand, GSLV was developed to launch the heavier INSAT class of geosynchronous satellites into orbit. In its third and final stage, GSLV uses the indigenously developed cryogenic upper stage.
- PSLV is designed mainly to deliver the earth observation or remote sensing satellites, whereas, GSLV has been designed for launching communication satellites.
- GSLV delivers satellites into a higher elliptical orbit, Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO).
- PSLV can carry satellites up to a total weight of 2000 kgs into space and reach up to an altitude of 600-900 km. GSLV can carry weight up to 5000 kgs and reach up to 36,000 km.
DRDO pay-load also included:
Of the 13 satellites from the U.S., one was a technology demonstration satellite and the remaining for 2-way communications and data relay. Among the five Indian satellites, one belongs to DRDO.
Five satellites belong to India including the Satish Dhawan SAT (SDSAT) built by Space Kidz India, a nano-satellite intended to study the radiation levels, space weather and demonstrate long range communication technologies, and the UNITYsat, a combination of three satellites intended for providing radio relay services. The other satellite belongs to DRDO.
The SDSAT developed by SpaceKids India has an engraving of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the top panel of the satellite to show solidarity and gratitude for the atmanirbhar initiative and space privatisation.
The Bhagavad Gita was also sent on-board an SD card to give the scripture, which teaches oneness as the highest form of humanity, the highest honour.
Watching the Amazon rain forests:
- The Amazonia-1, weighing 637 kg, belonging to the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE), was separated.
- The satellite will further strengthen the existing structure by providing remote sensing data to users for monitoring deforestation in the Amazon region and for analysis of diversified agriculture across the Brazilian territory, according to ISRO.
- The Amazonia-1 was injected into its precise orbit of 758 km in a sun-synchronous polar orbit.
- This moment represents the top of all this effort made by so many people in our National Institute for Space Research and our Space agency.
- This is a very important mission for Brazil and it represents a new era for Brazilian industry for satellites. This is one positive step of our partnership that is going to grow. We are going to work together and this is the beginning of our partnership.
- Following that, the other 18 customer satellites were placed into their intended orbits.
Information about Amazon Rainforests:
- These are large tropical rainforest occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America and covering an area of 6,000,000 square km.
- Tropical forests are closed-canopy forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator.
- They are very wet places, receiving more than 200 cm rainfall per year, either seasonally or throughout the year.
- Temperatures are uniformly high – between 20°C and 35°C. Such forests are found in Asia, Australia, Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico and on many of the Pacific Islands.
- Comprising about 40% of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
This particular mission is special because these five Indian satellites are coming under the new space reform announced by the Government of India.
These institutes have done an excellent job. ISRO has promoted, handheld and all along helped them to build these satellites technically correctly to launch them.
ISRO, like NASA, is essentially a scientific organisation whose main objective is the exploration of space and carrying out scientific missions.
There are a number of ambitious space missions lined up in the coming years, including a mission to observe the Sun, a mission to the Moon, a human spaceflight, and then, possibly, a human landing on the Moon.
ISRO has 14 missions planned this year, including the first unmanned mission around the end of the year.