BANGALORE, India - In a deal worth Rs 200 crore, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) launched two U.K. satellites through its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) on Monday.
The fully commercial launch by ISRO's Antrix Corporation Limited saw two British satellites - NovaSAR and S1-4 - being launched through India's PSLV rocket from the country's rocket port at Sriharikota.
ISRO revealed that the fully commercial launch involved the whole rocket being hired by an overseas company that led to the launch of Britain's day and night viewing satellite and another one meant for environment monitoring.
In a statement, ISRO confirmed that the launch in the wee hours of Monday became the 44th launch of the country's workhorse rocket.
ISRO's Antrix further noted that it had used a lighter version of the PSLV to orbit the two British satellites that together weighted 889 kilograms.
Britain's Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, that created the two satellites said that the NovaSAR satellite has day and night viewing capability for resource mapping, disaster management and ship detection. It added that the second one, the S1-4 satellite is meant for environment monitoring and urban management.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Dr S Somnath, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram described the launch as a "fully commercial launch by ISRO," claiming that "India will earn money by this launch."
Dr Somnath further explained, "This is fifth fully commercial launch of PSLV where the whole rocket has been hired by a foreign company. PSLV has a very special slot hence foreign companies prefer it because it is highly reliable and India's offers timely launches without much of a waiting period."
ISRO pointed out that the rocket with satellites were launched at night, in keeping with the requirement by the British company.
It further noted that so far, there have been only three night launches from Sriharikota and revealed that the client had sought the specific time period as it wanted a specific orbit for its satellites that could be achieved only if the rocket took off at the right time.
ISRO Chairman, K Sivan meanwhile said, “This unique mission is mainly for ‘ascending daytime node’ launch. This is the first time we have executed a different type of mission altogether."
He further pointed out that over the next six months, ISRO will see 18 missions – ten satellite missions and eight launch vehicle missions.
Adding, “We are almost going to have one launch every two weeks. Definitely the load on us is going to be huge."