Last week, an Indian PSLV launch vehicle put 14 satellites into orbit, including 13 commercial cubesats. The launch took place on November 27, 2019 at 9:28 AM local time from the from Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) in India. It was the forty-ninth flight of the PSLV.
The primary mission payload for the C47 launch was Cartosat, an Indian Space Agency high-resolution imaging satellite. The satellite is capable of 0.25 meter single color resolution, 1.13 meter resolution in four band multispectral mode, and 12 meter resolution in hyperspectral mode. Also onboard is a medium wave IR camera with 5.7 meter resolution. The third-generation earth observation satellite is expected to have a 5 year mission life.
Twelve of the cubesats were for Planet. The new Flock-4p “SuperDove” satellites feature increased spectral (color) bands, able to support 8-bands of color, up from the previous 4. More colors enable better recognition of things such as agricultural health and chemical changes on the ground from mining and industrial activities. Planet operates a fleet of over 120 Dove satellites, with 26 SuperDoves already in orbit.
The thirteenth satellite was an Analytical Space (ASI) 3U cubesat. The Meshbed satellite is designed to demonstrate a MITRE patented folding antenna to enable faster communications as a part of its plans to build a space-based relay network for satellites to more quickly deliver data without having to wait to fly over a ground station. The FUSE antenna will both downlink data as well as passively listen to the communications of other satellites in orbit operated by others. ASI’s first satellite, Radix, was launched from the International Space Station in July 2018 and was designed to demonstrate laser communications between 6U satellite and the ground.
Two more Indian PSLV launches are scheduled in December. The first one is expected to put four Spire Global Lemur-2 satellites and a Japanese small size high-resolution SAR satellite into orbit, while the second will have more Lemur-2s on board plus four RF sensing satellites for Kleos.