PSLV-C47-CartoSAT-3 mission: ISRO to launch 13 US satellites and India's eighth CartoSAT at 9.28am today

Of the 14 ridesharing satellites on the PSLV-C47, 13 are commercial US nanosatellites signed on by a commercial arrangement with NewSpace India Limited.


The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has locked a date and time for the launch the CartoSAT-3 Earth observation satellite from India along with thirteen commercial nanosatellites from the US, the agency announced in a tweet.

The PSLV-C47 will lift off carrying fourteen satellites on 27 November at 9.28 am IST from ISRO's launchpad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. It was first scheduled to launch on 25 November but it was postponed for reasons unknown.

Registrations are now closed but 5,000 lucky people will be able to watch it live from the Launch Viewing Gallery in Sriharikota. The gallery was inaugurated on 31 March this year by the Chairman of ISRO, Dr K Sivan, with the launch of PSLV-C45/EMISAT, which was ISRO's first to place satellites in three different orbits in a single launch.

PSLV-C47-CartoSAT-3 mission: ISRO to launch 13 US satellites and Indias eighth CartoSAT at 9.28am today

ISRO's CartoSAT-3

CartoSAT-3 is the eighth in a series of indigenous Earth observation satellites built by ISRO. With its highly-advanced remote sensing capability, CartoSAT-3 is a leap of advancement over its predecessor CartoSAT-2, with a wider spatial range (of view) and finer resolution (of up to 0.25 metres or 25 centimetres).

If all goes to plan, the satellite will be placed at an altitude of 509 km, at an inclination of 97.5 degrees by mid-day on 27 November.

A multi-spectral image captured by Cartosat-2 of Alexandria, Egypt on 27 June 2017, a few months into becoming an operation satellite. Image: ISRO

A multi-spectral image captured by Cartosat-2 of Alexandria, Egypt on 27 June 2017, a few months into becoming an operation satellite. Image: ISRO

CartoSAT-3 is undoubtedly one of the most advanced imaging satellites ever built by ISRO, with the capability to produce some of the most high-resolution aerial imagery in the world — certainly the highest of any ISRO satellites. It will also image across multiple spectra — panchromatic (captures all visible colours of light), multispectral (captures light within specific ranges in the electromagnetic spectrum) and hyperspectral (captures light from across the electromagnetic spectrum) earth observation mission.

Once online, the satellite will serve in large-scale urban planning, rural resources and infrastructure development, monitoring of coastal land use and land cover, etc.

Apart from India's CartoSAT-3, the launch will also include 12 SuperDove "Flock" satellites, and a communication satellite technical proof-of-concept satellite called "MESHBED".

The SuperDoves, developed by Planet Labs, are part of a network of smallsats designed for earth observation. These satellites, an upgraded iteration of the 26 "Doves" already in orbit, offer higher imaging quality, sharper images, more vibrant colors, and increased accuracy for advanced/time-series analysis. If successfully launched, Planet intends to expand its network with more such SuperDoves, and bring them closer to a planned constellation called "PlanetScope".

Planet’s Flock 4p will mark the fifth launch of Planet satellites on India’s PSLV

Analytical Space Inc's Meshbed

Analytical Space Inc's (ASI) satellite on the PSLV-C47 is a technical demonstration. With its 'Meshbed' satellite, ASI intends to test a space technology that will allow its users (on Earth) to gain faster access to data from satellites.

The spacecraft features a patented, inexpensive antenna design from MITRE that could help enable faster access to space-based data. It can be used for a variety of applications including integrated communications and navigation as well as in government missions that need tactical communications, intelligence, surveillance or remote reconnaissance.

Satellite engineers Weston Marlow and Sera Evcimen assemble Meshbed at ASI's space at the Engine, MIT's home for tough tech startups. Image credit: ASI

Satellite engineers Weston Marlow and Sera Evcimen assemble Meshbed at ASI's space at the Engine, MIT's home for tough tech startups. Image credit: ASI

"By the end of 2019, we will have executed 11 launches on PSLVs and sent more than 100 satellites to orbit on this vehicle," Curt Blake, CEO and president of Spaceflight, said. "The PSLV continues to be a reliable launch partner for us."

PSLV operations appear to be going full-steam at ISRO, with customers lining up to queue their satellites in rideshare missions like the PSLV-C47/CartoSAT-3 mission. With Spaceflight, Antrix Corporation and NewSpace India bringing in customers aplenty, the space community is eagerly awaiting ISRO's first demonstrations of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), which promises more frequent, and less expensive tickets for small satellites to space.

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