ISRO Launches 2 UK Earth Observation Satellites Successfully

HYDERABAD: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Sunday launched the NovaSAR and S1-4 earth observation satellites of the UK on PSLV-C42 launch vehicle, from the first launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 10.08 PM IST.

“The September 16 rocket launch will be a fully commercial launch. The rocket will be carrying only the two foreign satellites,” K. Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), told IANS earlier on Thursday.


In the PSLV’s payload there are two British satellites, NovaSAR-1 and S1-4, made by Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited (SSTL) in the UK, a small satellite manufacturer.

The spacecraft will assume a number of roles but its designers specifically want to see if it can help monitor suspicious shipping activity.

ISRO Satellite before launch
ISRO Satellite before launch: Image Credit: ISRO

NovaSAR-1 is a technology demo mission satellite developed by Airbus. It will test SSLT’s ability to provide earth observation and disaster management data for bidding customers.

NovaSAR’s imaging prowess will be directed at monitoring forest, land use patterns and ice cover over time. It will also keep an eye out for potential floods and other looming natural disasters, according to SSTL’s press release.

S1-4, is a high-resolution Earth observation satellite. It can capture images of multiple different targets in a single pass above an area, the release says. This spacecraft will discern objects on the ground as small as 87cm across. Both it and NovaSAR were manufactured by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited of Guildford.

S1-4 satellite is designed for use in urban planning, land use and agriculture, as well as natural resource and disaster monitoring.

Dr S Somnath, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram explained “this is fifth fully commercial launch of PSLV where the whole rocket has been hired by a foreign company”. He says “PSLV has a very special slot hence foreign companies prefer it because it is highly reliable and India’s offers timely launches without much of a waiting period”.

It was launched at night according to Indian Standard Time, as desired by the British company as it seeks a specific orbit for its satellites that could be achieved only at this timing. Till date there have been only three night launches from Sriharikota.

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