Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) announced that is planning on launching 5 British satellites from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 9:58 local time this evening.
Largest Mission in Antrix History
Antrix, commercial launch site of ISRO, published on its website that this mission will be the heaviest commercial mission they’ve ever launched. The overall weight they are expected to send off into space amounts to 3,175 pounds (1440 kg). Before this launch, the heaviest ISRO mission was sent last June from France, weighing in at about 1,570 pounds. This will be their 30th launch in total, and they are excited to see what information they can gather from it.
Of the 5 satellites in this new commercial launch, 3 designed by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited are mini satellites specifically for observation of the Earth, and to test the ability of a solar sail to clean up space junk. Each weighs around 985 pounds, and are the main attraction for the launch. These satellites are referred to as the DMC3 (Disaster Monitoring Constellation) satellites, and are the product of a deal with 21AT, a Beijing-based company. This company sells images to the Chinese Government for monitoring of natural disasters, urban growth, and other land resources.
Another satellite going up in this new commercial launch, CBNT-1, is only 200 pounds of the accumulative weight. According to the information published on their website, it is an “optical Earth Observation technology demonstration micro satellite built by SSTL.“ They also speculate that it will take a total of 19 minutes to get all 5 satellites released into orbit.
Why This Matters
We are becoming increasingly capable of sending various types of equipment into space, and each launch matters in terms of learning what does and doesn’t work, whether it’s a commercial launch or a private launch. These satellites are also expected to carry miniature cameras with 3.3-foot-resolution, the highest-resolution cameras that SSTL has ever built for their satellites. These missions also provide scientists opportunities to test out new designs and equipment, and to figure out ways to make the cost of launching cheaper. Private launch sites have been in the news lately, since which potentially can lower the cost of flight drastically, might become the new norm in the space industry.