Two British Earth-imaging satellites launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Center aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSVL) on Sunday. The launch was the country’s fourth successful mission of 2018 and the forty-first for the PSVL rocket.
The rocket lifted off from the launch facility on India’s east coast at 17:38 UTC (23:08 local time) on September 16, 2018. The PSVL’s first stage is powered by the S139 motor, one of the world’s largest solid fuel rocket motors. Following first stage separation, the rocket’s second stage ignited pushing the two British satellites into a low Earth orbit approximately 363 miles (585 kilometers) above sea level.
The two payloads launched on Sunday are the NovaSAR1 and the SSTL S1-4 observation satellites. The first is a technology demonstration developed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in partnership with the British government and Airbus Defense and Space. It features a next-generation radar imaging payload that is lighter, more compact and more capable than just about anything before it. It’s hoped the satellite will be a trailblazer for the future of lightweight radar imaging satellites.
The second observation satellite launched aboard the PSVL was also developed by SSTL and carries an optical camera and telescope. The high-resolution images captured by the SSTL S1-4 satellite will be leased to Beijing-based commercial EO satellite operator, Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co Ltd (21AT).