Just over a month after the first launch mission of the year, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is gearing up to launch a communication satellite aboard India’s workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on December 17. The launch will take place at about 3.41pm.
The mission, which was to take place on December 14, was postponed by a few days owing to adverse weather conditions.
This will be the 42nd communications satellite to be launched by the space agency and will provide coverage over the entire country for disaster management and satellite internet connection.
The satellite, named CMS-01, will be the first in a new series of communication satellites by India after the INSAT and the GSAT series. The previous satellite launched by Isro also had an altered nomenclature; it was called EOS (Earth Observation Satellite) 01. Previous earth observation satellites were thematically named by the space agency depending on their task or the kind of instrumentation carried. EOS-01 had previously been named RISAT-2BR2, short for Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT).
The new satellite will replace the current GSAT-12 in orbit, which was launched in 2011.
The next much anticipated mission of the space agency is the maiden flight of the newly developed Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), with the capacity to launch a light 500kg satellite in the lower Earth orbit.
The new rocket will cost about Rs30 crore, compared to the Rs120 crore it costs to manufacture the currently used PSLV. It can also be assembled by a team of six within seven days, in comparison to a team of 600 people and a few months it takes to assemble a PSLV.
The SSLV has been developed by Isro mainly for commercial launches.
Before the pandemic, India was only able to complete one satellite mission—GSAT-30—this year, launched by the international launcher Arianespace from Kourou, French Guiana, in January.
The space agency had nearly 20 satellite and launch missions planned for the year, including the big-ticket Aditya L1, India’s first mission to the sun. The purely scientific mission would have seen Isro sending a satellite 1.5 million km away from the Earth to the L1 point. The L1, or Lagrangian point, between the Earth and the Sun, is where the gravitational pull of both the bodies on the satellite is equal to the centripetal force needed to keep the satellite in orbit.
The first unmanned flight under the Gaganyaan mission was also scheduled for December 2020.
A third Chandrayaan mission with just a lander and rover was to take place either in late 2020 or early 2021. All the missions were delayed due to the pandemic.