ISRO milestone: 300 satellites from 33 nations put in space in 20 years

SRIHARIKOTA: Two months after lunar lander Vikram’s failure to softland on Moon, cheer was back at Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Wednesday morning when it successfully launched PSLV-C47 that placed Earth observation satellite Cartosat-3 and 13 US nanosatellites. It marked Isro’s milestone of launching more than 300 satellites from 33 countries in two decades.

“I heartily congratulate the entire @isro team on yet another successful launch of PSLV-C47 carrying indigenous Cartosat-3 satellite and over a dozen nano satellites of USA. The advanced Cartosat-3 will augment our high resolution imaging capability. ISRO has once again made the nation proud!,”

On Wednesday, around 17 minutes after the rocket lifted off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota, the launcher injected Cartosat-3 into a 509km polar sun-synchronous orbit. In the next 10 minutes, 13 nanosatellites from the US were placed in their respective orbits.

The 1,625kg Cartosat-3 is the first in the third-generation Earth observation satellite with a high-resolution imaging capability and the ninth in the Cartosat series. Isro chairman K Sivan said, “Cartosat-3 is the most complex and advanced earth observation satellite developed by Isro so far.”

The camera on board the satellite is expected to capture images with a spatial resolution of less than 30cm (which means from space it can see objects as small as 30cm). Cartosat-1 had 2.5m resolution and the Cartosat-2 series had 1m resolution. Isro said Cartosat-3 would help large-scale urban planning, rural resource management and infrastructure development, besides providing information for coastal land use and land cover.

For Isro, this is the 47th successful PSLV flight since its first success on October 15, 1994, when the vehicle, in its second development flight placed 804kg remote sensing satellite IRS-P2 in orbit. So far, PSLV has placed 48 satellites including Chandrayaan, Mars Orbiter Mission and micro, nano and experimental satellites.

It was the fifth launch of the year that comes after GSLV-MkIII successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 in July 22. In September, Vikram lander crashed when it attempted to softland on Moon. Isro has so far placed 310 satellites from 33 countries since May 26, 1999 when PSLV, on its second operational flight, carried three satellites in a single vehicle for the first time which included those from Korea and Germany.

Sivan said the agency has planned 13 missions in the next four months which includes six launch vehicle missions and seven satellite missions. “Our hands are full. Team Isro will rise to the occasion and meet every demand,” he said.

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