The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is aiming to gain its lost momentum as it launches the Earth Observation Satellite on August 12. The launch will mark the resumption of services by the premier space agency that has largely come to a halt due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The satellite, also dubbed the Geo Imaging Satellite-1 (GISAT-1) was initially set to be launched in March 2020. However, it was scrubbed following a technical glitch. The satellite will be launched onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-F10 (GSLV) at 5.43 am on August 12 from Sriharikota. The final launch will depend on weather conditions.
The GSLV flight will be carrying the satellite in a 4 metre diameter-Ogive shaped payload fairing, which is being flown for the first time on the rocket, that has so far conducted 13 other flights deploying satellite and partner missions into space.
What is Earth Observation Satellite?
The Earth Observation Satellite will play a key role in disaster management and mitigation for India as it enables near-real-time monitoring of natural disasters like floods and cyclones that have become common in the Indian subcontinent. The satellite will image the whole country four to five times on a daily basis, sending in key data related to weather and environmental change to different agencies.
The satellite will be placed in the geosynchronous transfer orbit by GSLV after which it will move in sync with Earth. The satellite will have payload imaging sensors of six band multi-spectral visible and near infra-red with 42 metres resolution, 158 bands hyper-spectral visible and near infra-red with 318 metres resolution and 256 bands hyper-spectral short wave infra-red with 191 metres resolution.
What is GSLV?
The August 12 launch will be the second flight for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk III, which had last blasted off with the ambitious Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to the Moon. The launch vehicle had emerged as a major achievement for Isro engineers after it placed the lunar spacecraft in a higher orbit, efficiently saving fuel.
Meanwhile, Isro has introduced new changes to its fairing capsule, that will act as the cargo hold, giving it a 4-metre diameter-Ogive shape that will boost aerodynamics. The fourth-generation launch vehicle is a three-stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons, and the indigenously developed cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II.
According to Isro, “GSLV’s capability of placing up to 5 tonnes in Low Earth Orbits broadens the scope of payloads from heavy satellites to multiple smaller satellites.”
Isro finding lost momentum
With the launch of the Earth Observation Satellite, Isro is aiming to conduct four more such launches in the next five months. The agency, which was planning to launch big missions like the first uncrewed flight of Gaganyaan, Chandrayaan-3 and the Aditya L1 to the Sun have all been delayed.
Isro will next send EOS-4, a radar imaging satellite with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) that can capture during day and night while looking through cloud covers. The satellite will be launched onboard Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in September. It will act as a key part of the defence system due to its ability to peer through clouds and observe in infrared.
The agency is also eyeing the debut launch of the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) by the end of this year. SSLV is a three-stage, all-solid launch vehicle that can carry a payload weighing 500 kilograms to the polar orbit, 500 kilometres above Earth’s surface and a 300-kilogram payload into Sun Synchronous Polar Orbit.
Isro will use the newly developed launch system for on-demand services and launching small satellites.