The India Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched three satellites into orbit on Wednesday: ResourceSat-2 and two nano-satellites, YouthSat and X-Sat. The payloads were launched from the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C16, the 17th consecutive successful launch from the PSLV after it failed during its first launch in 1993.
ResourceSat-2 is the follow on mission to ResourceSat-1, an ISRO satellite launched in 2003 that was expected to have a mission life of 5-7 years. As a remote sensing satellite, ResourceSat-2 is equipped with three cameras that provide higher resolution images than its predecessor. In addition, it will carry an experimental instrument built by the Canadian based company, COMDEV, which will provide ship surveillance (including the speed and position of vessels on Earth).
The mission objective for ResourceSat-2 is nearly identical to ResourceSat-1, which focused on providing data on natural resources, including water and agricultural as well as climate studies. In explaining ResourceSat-2’s mission, ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan said that it will “monitor natural resources at different resolutions. It can be used to monitor snow cover, glacier changes, urban landscape and others.”
In addition, India has touted ResourceSat-2 as a satellite that will provide useful data to the international community when it begins transmitting on April 28. The Times of India reported yesterday that data from ResourceSat-2 will be shared among 15 countries. Similarly, in discussing the new satellite, R.R. Navalgund, director of the Space Applications Centre (which is a major component of ISRO) said, “You can collect data from the entire globe. So, there will be a great demand for this kind of data which is available from the Resourcesat-2…. It will become the workhorse for monitoring the resources of the entire earth for the global community.”
Besides ResourceSat-2, the launch today also put YouthSat and X-Sat into orbit. YouthSat is a joint project between India and Russia that will study “the relationship between solar variability and thermosphere-lonosphere changes,” according to an ISRO brochure. Earlier this month, India and Russia also pledged to strengthen cooperation between their space programs in the future. X-Sat is a Singaporean satellite that, as the country’s first satellite, will be used primarily to broaden the knowledge of Singapore’s space program.
Looking ahead, India plans to enhance its already robust space program. Last November, for instance, ISRO promised to launch three satellites – Megha-Tropiques, SARAL and RISAT-1 – solely devoted to studying climate change this year alone. Then, earlier this year, India’s Department of Space pledged to launch “not less than 30 satellites” in the next decade. Thus, India’s ambitions in space seem to be expanding as the country continues to experience economic growth.
Photo: ResourceSat-2, YouthSat and X-Sat Intregrated with PSLV-C16. Courtesy of ISRO and the Indian government.
A video of the launch can be viewed on The Times of India website.