India PSLV-C48 launch (Source: ISRO)

Radar, Spire ship/plane tracking sats launched by India

India’s PSLV rocket successfully logged another mission early today, December 11. The PSLV-C48 mission successfully put an Indian radar imaging satellite along with nine commercial satellites into orbit, including a Japanese radar imaging satellite and a group of Spire Lemur-2 ship/plane tracking satellites.

PSLV-C48 lifted off at 3:25 local time from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in India, putting all satellites into orbit without incident. The primary payload for the launch was RISAT-2BR1, a radar imaging satellite weighing in at 628 kilograms. RISAT-2BR1 is one of two planned satellites expected to provide imagery for agriculture, forestry, and disaster management, but could also provide military imagery. Details on resolution were not provided in ISRO press materials on line, but the satellite might be capable of 1 meter or better resolution.

Japan’s iQPS organization launched the QPS-SAR 1 satellite, a smaller radar imaging satellite with a 3.6 meter antenna. IQPS says the satellite should be able to provide 1 meter resolution sufficient to identify cars and similar-sized objects from space in all weather conditions, day or night. A second QPS-SAR satellite is expected to be launched into orbit next year onboard a PSLV mission.

Spire put four Lemur-2 satellites into orbit onboard the mission. The Lemur-2 series of satellites are designed are designed to perform AIS ship tracking, ADS-B aircraft tracking, and radio frequency weather data.  Currently, Spire has 88 Lemur satellites in orbit and plans to have a constellation of over 100 or more satellites in the future. Another set of Lemur-2 satellites are scheduled to be launched onboard the next India PSLV mission, C49, scheduled to take place by the end of the year.

Hera Systems launched its first pathfinder satellite. The 1HOPsat TD is a 12U cubesat expected to provide sub-meter imagery and video resolution. Ultimately, Hera plans to orbit a constellation of 50 satellites to collect imagery multiple times per day over areas of interest.

Tyvak systems built two satellites onboard the C48 mission. PTD 1 is a NASA Ames research 6U cubesat designed to qualify a micro-electrospray thruster for use by other satellites. COMMTRAIL is a 3U cubesat built for an Italian commercial entity designed to demonstrate search and rescue capabilities.

Finally. Duchifat-3 is a 3U cubesat developed and built by Israel secondary school students which will be operated by those students. It has an on-board camera for earth imaging, an amateur radio transponder with an APRS digipeater.

Doug Mohney

Doug Mohney, a principal at Cidera Analytics, has been working and writing about IT and satellite industries for over 20 years. His real world experience including stints at two start-ups, a commercial internet service provider that went public in 1997 for $150 million and a satellite internet broadband company. Follow him on Twitter at DougonTech or contact him at dmohney139 (at) gmail (dot) com.

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