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300 foreign satellites in 20 years: ISRO's odyssey

The 300 mark
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The 300 mark

India crossed the milestone of launching 300 foreign satellites when its rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-XL (PSLV-XL) put into orbit 13 nano satellites from the US. The American satellites are piggy backing on the rocket's main luggage, India's advanced earth observation satellite Cartosat-3.


The Cartosat 3 is the most advanced earth observation satellite built by ISRO, Chairman K Sivan said in a post-launch speech on Wednesday.

ISRO's chief Sivan said the space agency has 13 missions, six launch vehicle events and seven satellite missions, slated till March next year.

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The first-ever launch
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The first-ever launch

Before today, India with its PSLV rocket had put into orbit 297 foreign satellites. Now with 13 American nano satellites, the total number of foreign satellites that India has launched will touch 310.

India first launched foreign satellites in 1999 with the PSLV-C2. This launch was the forty-third launch by ISRO since its first mission on 1 January 1962. It carried India's first remote sensing satellite Oceansat-1 (IRS-P4) as the main payload, and South Korean satellite Kitsat-3 and German satellite DLR-Tubsat as auxiliary payloads.

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ISRO's new space company
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ISRO's new space company

While the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle has attracted deals with foreign firms to accommodate satellites from countries such as France, Canada, and the US through its first commercial arm Antrix, the commercial satellites aboard the PSLV C-47 have arrived through agreements through the second commercial entity New Space India, set up in March this year.

Through Antrix, ISRO has completed 239 deals over the last three years and earned operational revenue over Rs 6,280 crore.

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Picture perfect
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Picture perfect

The 1,625 kg Cartosat-3, India's new earth observation satellite will send sharp, clear images for urban planning, rural resource and infrastructure development, coastal land use and land cover and also for strategic/defence purposes.

The images captured by the satellite can also be used for surveillance purposes while ISRO is silent on this aspect.

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

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Rocket specs
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Rocket specs

Cartosat-3 has many new technologies and 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.

The PSLV-XL rocket standing around 44.4 metres tall and weighing about 320 tons with a one-way ticket will hurtle itself towards the skies ferrying Cartosat-3 and the American satellites.

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