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ISRO's C51 mission is just the beginning; greater milestones to achieve

  • Adrija Ray Chaudhury | Team PresentMirror | Updated: March 14, 2021, 8:48 a.m.

India's Polar rocket PSLV C-51 carrying Amazonia-1 of Brazil and 18 other satellites blasted off from this spaceport in the first mission of the year for ISRO. At the end of a nearly 26 hour countdown, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C51 lifted off from the first launch pad of the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), over 100 km from Chennai. However, the future has a bigger picture in store for Indian space arena.


India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle PSLV-C51 successfully launched Amazonia-1 along with 18 co-passenger satellites on February 28, 2021 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

PSLV-C51 lifted off from the First Launch Pad of SDSC SHAR at 10:24 hours (IST) as planned. After a flight of about 17 minutes 23 seconds, the vehicle injected the Amazonia-1 into its intended orbit. The following 1 hour 38 minutes was pivotal for the mission as all the 18 co-passenger satellites successfully separated from the PSLV in a predetermined sequence.


Image Credits: isro.gov.in

What is PSLV?

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) is the third generation launch vehicle of India. It is the first Indian launch vehicle to be equipped with liquid stages.

PSLV is known for its efficient power to weight ratio and low budget. It is a 4-stage rocket and made of alternative design wherein the first and second stages run on solid fuel while the first and third stages are fueled by the more robust liquid propellants. The solid fuel used is HTPB (Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene). Another key feature of PSLV is that it is not operated at full load and has added strap-on motors for extra power, if the need be. PSLV uses non-cryogenic and hypergolic liquid fuel which means they do not need separate ignition and hence evokes all possibilities of ignition failure. It is equipped with a stage 4 PS4 engine which facilitates easy control and maneuvering because the 4th stage of the rocket is responsible for injecting the satellites into their respective orbits. PSLV is a derivative of the Viking A4 engine from France and has been technically improvised by Indian scientists for better run-off.


Image Credits: isro.gov.in

What has PSLV given India?

PSLV is known as the workhorse of ISRO and has distinguished achievements which includes launching India's first lunar probe Chandrayaan-1, India's first interplanetary mission, Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) and India's first space observatory, Astrosat. On 15 February 2017, PSLV set a world record in C37 mission successfully deploying 104 satellites in sun-synchronous orbit, tripling the previous record held by Russia for the highest number of satellites sent to space on a single launch.

In the 90s, a team of scientists led by Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam was looking for a moderately built, compact and efficient launch vehicle when they came up with PSLV, a highly modular and scalable system. PSLV holds a success rate of 94% with 50 successful missions under its name.

Interesting facts about C51


• PSLV-C51 is the first dedicated commercial mission of NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), Isro’s commercial arm.

• India's PSLV-C51 launched Brazil's Amazonia-1 as the primary satellite including 18 other satellites. Amazonia-1, which is the primary satellite in the mission, is also the first satellite completely designed, integrated, tested and operated by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), Brazil and will be used to monitor deforestation and other nefarious activities in the Amazon.

• PSLV also carried Satish Dhawan SAT (SD-SAT), built by Chennai-based Space Kidz India, as a co-passenger payload. The nanosatellite will study radiation level and space weather and also demonstrate long-range communication technologies. Engraved with PM Modi’s photograph, SD-SAT also carried the Bhagavad Gita in a Secured Digital card format.

• PSLV-C51 also included UNITYsat, which is a combination of three satellites built for providing radio relay services.

• The fourteen satellites from NSIL carried were the commercial satellites from India (1) and USA (13).

• With this launch, the total number of customer satellites from foreign countries placed in orbit by PSLV is 342 satellites from 34 countries.


Amazonia-1; Image Credits: firstpost.com

There's much more in store..

ISRO has several fascinating and inspiring missions lined up. Following the partial failure of Chandrayaan 2, Chandrayaan 3 projects an orbiter-less mission where more emphasis will be on trajectory building and probe landing. Chandrayaan 3 is scheduled for March, 2021 having a budget of 615 crores.

In 2021, ISRO gives us its most ambitious project till date-its first crewed mission 'Gaganyaan'. Different organizations are entrusted with the many aspects of this mission-Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) is responsible for design, DRDO will look after space-grade food, healthcare and radiation measurements of astronauts while ISRO will take care of launch orbit manuever and return. Gaganyaan is lined for December, 2021 on a GSLV Mark 3.

The next in line is Aditya L1 which is India's first solar mission and is responsible for deploying a probe in L1 orbit of the Sun. It will try to find solutions to two principle questions that physicists are unable to answer even today, the first one being the incredibly high temperature of Sun's upper atmosphere when compared to its lower temperature and the second being the long-term effects of Sun's radiation on Earth.

ISRO is also planning Mangalyaan 2 and Shukrayaan, but they are still in the very early stages. The NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar mission(or NISAR) is a joint project between NASA and ISRO to co-develop and launch a dual-frequency synthetic aperture radar on an Earth observation satellite. The satellite will be the first radar imaging satellite to use dual frequencies and the most expensive Earth observation satellite till date.

ISRO is undoubtedly our pride and it keeps it esteem intact by not participating in the indiscreet competition between the space agencies of various countries. ISRO plans its missions according to needs of science and technology, untainted by political skulduggery and makes its name in notable discoveries.

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