I dreamt of PSLVs

So, last night I dreamed of PSLV. The PSLV-C39 mission failed a few days back and it’s possible return to Earth has been in the news for the past few days. ISRO has been putting updates of it’s fuel being vented and a possible crash landing in the Pacific Ocean sometime in the next two months.

I dreamed that the fourth stage of the PSLV landed on the street in front of my apartment building, trashed a few trees and landed right near the gate of the temple nearby. The priest, who it nearly missed by inches, thought of it as divine intervention and immediately started performing rituals. Awoken by the sound from my afternoon slumber, I looked out and identified the PSLV from the Indian flag and the national emblem emblazoned on it but kept quiet.

A few minutes later members of the emergency services tried to isolate and retrieve the object, thanking the gods for saving so many lives. To their astonishment the early morning temple goers cordoned off the area and refused to co-operate in any effort to move the object.

The rituals went on till the early morning resisting all efforts of the emergency services to retrieve the object.

I have no recollection of the next few steps I took, but I was speeding down NH-47, the fourth stage on the back of a truck. I then spent the next 4 years building a PSLV in Palakkad. After 15 launches of my re-hashed version of the PSLV, I sit on a porch reading the front page of The Week calling me India’s answer to Elon Musk. Thankfully, I woke up by this time.

ISRO to launch 5 British satellites as its first commercial launch in 2015

ISRO will launch 5 British Satellites on behalf of Antrix Corporation (which is ISRO’s commercial arm) on board the PSLV-C28 vehicle on July 10, 2015. This is the PSLV’s 30th mission. ISRO will use the PSLV’s Extended Length (XL) variant to launch 1440 kg payload consisting of 5 British satellites into orbit.

The 5 satellites are the Surrey Satellite Technology Limited’s (SSTL) DMC3 satellites and CNBT-1 satellites and the Surrey Space Center’s DeOrbitSail spacecraft.

DMC3 satellites

The DMC stands for the Disaster Management Constellation of 3 satellites built by the SSTL for it’s wholly owned subsidiary, DMCii (DMC International Imaging Ltd) which is executing this project for a Chinese company, 21AT.

A visualisation of the orbit and position of each satellite in the DMC constellation. Image Courtesy: SSTL
A visualisation of the orbit and position of each satellite in the DMC constellation. Image Courtesy: SSTL

The DMC constellation is a group of 3 small satellites placed in orbit 120 degrees apart, as shown in the image above. The idea is to quickly image areas which have been struck by disaster with high-resolution cameras (1 m resolution) with a capability to provide very fast down link in order to help make the images available quickly in order to assess damage and plan disaster response.

CBNT-1

I could not read much about this satellite but it seems that the company that built it, SSTL will share more details after the launch. All that is known for sure right now is that it weighs 91 kg and is a technology demonstrator mission.

DeOrbitsail

This is an interesting 7 kg 3U cubesat with dimensions of 10 x 10 x 34 cm. It contains a highly densely packed 4 x 4 meter sail which will be deployed in space in order to increase drag in order to cause the spacecraft to deorbit and return back to Earth. The project is developed by the Surrey Space Center (not the same as SSTL).

PSLV-C28

The Spacecraft mounted on the Launch adapter called the L-adapter. Image Courtesy: ISRO
The Spacecraft mounted on the Launch adapter called the L-adapter. Image Courtesy: ISRO

For ISRO, the challenge begins with the three DMC3 spacecrafts. It had to fit in these 3 satellites each of which has a length of 3 meters into the 3.2 m diameter, 8.9 m long payload fairing of the PSLV-XL. They resolved the issue by changing the launch adapter. A launch adapter is basically a platform on which the satellites are kept and launched from once the last stage of the PSLV reaches the designated orbit and orientation. The vehicle uses a new launch adapter which has a triangular deck and is called the Multiple Satellite Adapter – Version 2 (MSA-V2).

Illustration of the Multiple Satellite Adapter - Version 2 (MSA-V2) with the satellite mounted and showing the launch of various satellites. Image Courtesy: NasaSpaceflight.com
Illustration of the Multiple Satellite Adapter – Version 2 (MSA-V2) with the satellite mounted and showing the launch of various satellites. Image Courtesy: NasaSpaceflight.com

A success now will help cement the PSLV’s record and hopefully bring more business Antrix’s way. This launch shows that even commercial launches can make requirements on a proven launch vehicle that if managed would improve the agility of the variety of satellites that the PSLV is capable of putting into orbit. This agility lowers cost and enables Antrix to reach a wider market to sell launches on the PSLV. Wishing ISRO Godspeed.

PSLV to fly this February

Note: I wrote this on my earlier blog hosted as http://parallelspirals.blogspot.com. I recovered the text from the WayBack Machine. This post appeared on February 4, 2011 as per the time stamp. I’m trying to collect here again all my old writings spread on various blogs.

For the first launch this year, the ISRO has already started preparations for the launch of three satellites on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The launch is expected to take place in the morning between February 20 and February 25, 2011.

The main payload is the Resourcesat-2 satellite that will fly as a replacement for the ageing Resourcesat-1. Improvements have been made in the satellite in terms of avionics and improved swath coverage. After launch, the two satellites will operate simultaneously before the Resourcesat-1 satellite will be retired. Resourcesat-1 was launched in 2003 with a planned lifespan of 5 years. The images provided by these satellites are used for applications like vegetation dynamics, crop yield estimates,  disaster management etc.

There are two piggybacking payloads. One is the Indo-Russian collaboration project, YOUTHSAT and a Singapore University satellite, XSat-1.

Youthsat is a project proposed by former Indian President, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam in 2005. It aims to provide an opportunity to Indian and Russian students to work hands-on on scientific instrumentation and data analysis systems. The aim of the satellite is to study solar physics in terms of Solar-terrestrial interactions. The Russian students will study solar activity while the Indian students will work on its impact on the ionosphere. They hope to provide short term forecasts of the impact of energetic solar events on manned and unmanned spacecrafts.

The XSat-1 is Singapore’s first satellite being developed by Nanyang Technological University and various others in Singapore. The satellite is ~120 kg developed to image of the region near Singapore. After collecting the data the satellite will also downlink the data to Singapore.

We wish the ISRO best of luck for this upcoming launch!