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Credits: ISRO

PSLV launches India’s first mission of 2021

India’s national space agency ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) successfully launched 19 satellites atop their PSLV-DL launch vehicle this morning, February 28, 2021.

The four-stage, medium-lift launch vehicle blasted off from the First Launch Pad at India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center on the island Sriharikota at 04:54 UTC / 10:24 IST (local time).

PSLV launches Amazonia-1 and 18 secondary payloads into orbit.
PSLV launches Amazonia-1 and 18 secondary payloads into orbit. Credits: ISRO


Primary payload

The primary payload atop of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle was Amazonia-1, a 637 kg heavy optical Earth observation satellite operated by the Brazilian National Institute for Space Research (INPE). The spacecraft will provide data for monitoring of deforestation of the Amazon region and analysis of diversified agriculture across Brazil. Amazonia-1 is the first satellite designed, built and tested by the INPE.

The spacecraft was separated from the PS4, the rocket’s fourth stage, about 17 minutes 23 seconds after liftoff.

Secondary payloads

Besides Amazonia-1, the rocket carried 18 secondary payloads for multiple customer, which were deployed after two more burns of the PS4. Within a few minutes, the PSLV deployed Sindhu Netra, SDSAT, SAI-1 NanoConnect-2, twelve SpaceBee satellites, JITsat, GHRCEsat and Sri Shakthi Sat into their orbits.

Sindhu Netra: Sindhu Netra is an Indian defence satellite built by the Imarat Research Centre with the purpose to assist in identifying ships.

SDSAT: The Satish Dhawan SAT or SDSAT for short is a nano satellite built by Space Kidz India with the purpose to study the radiation levels in outer space, space weather and to demonstrate long range communications technologies.

SAI-1 NanoConnect-2: SAI-1 NanoConnect-2 is a Mexican technology demonstration satellite built by the Institute of Nuclear Science of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

SpaceBees: The SpaceBees are small communications satellites built and operated by the US-based company Swarm Technologies. The satellites are part of the company’s satellite constellation, which in its final phase will consist of about 150 small spacecrafts.

UNITYsat: UNITYsat is a trio of spacecrafts, called GHRCEsat, Sri Shakthi Sat and JITsat, which will provide radio relay services. GHRCEsat was built by the G. H. Raisoni College of Engineering, Sri Shakthi Sat by the Sri Shakthi Institute of Engineering and Technology and JITsat by the Jeppiaar Institute of Technology.

Launch vehicle

The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV for short is an Indian medium-lift launch vehicle in service since 1993. A total of five different variants of the rocket have been developed, four of which are still in active service.

The launch vehicle is 44 m tall, 2.8 m in diamter and has a launch mass of up to 320 tons (PSLV-XL). All variants consit of four stages (PS1-4) and differ in the number of strap-on boosters attached to the first stage. The variant used for today’s mission, the PSLV-DL, uses to strap-on boosters each filled with twelve tons of solid fuel.

PSLV on the launch pad
PSLV on the launch pad at Sriharikota, waiting for its launch. Credits: ISRO

Today’s mission, designated “PSLV-C51”, was India’s first rocket launch in 2021, the 78th launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, the 39th flight of a PSLV and the 3rd mission flown by the PSLV-DL variant. It was the first dedicated commercial PSLV mission performed by NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a government owned company under administrative control of the Department of Space (DOS). NSIL undertook this mission under a commercial arrangement with the US-based company Spaceflight Industries.

You can rewatch the launch on YouTube on the official channel of the ISRO


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