Space technology Current Affairs - 2019

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SpaceX successfully launches 64 small satellites using reusable Falcon 9 rocket

Elon Musk-led SpaceX has successfully launched 64 small satellites into low Earth orbit onboard of its reusable and preflown Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This has set new record in United States of launching satellites in single go. It was third voyage of Falcon 9 rocket, marking another milestone in SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.

About Satellites

The 64 small satellites included 49 CubeSats and 15 micro-satellites belonging to 34 different clients including public, private and university sources from 17 different countries across the world including South Korea, France and Kazakhstan. The microsatellites weighed few dozen kilograms and CubeSats weighed even smaller. Among launched satellites, one was sculpture called “Orbital Reflector” by artist Trevor Paglen, sent by Nevada Museum of Art and it was not scientific missions.

Note

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) holds record for the most satellite launch in single flight. It had launched 104 satellites in one go using Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37) rocket.

Space X

It is private US space agency. It was founded by Elon Musk on May 6, 2002 who is its current CEO of Space X. Its main purpose for its establishment was to reduce cost of space transport and establish human habitation on Mars house. Space X has developed series of Falcon Rockets. To reduce cost of internal transport, the space company has created re-usable rockets. Majority of these rockets are also used in other launches.

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ISRO successfully launches earth observation satellite HysIS, 30 foreign satellites into orbit

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched country’s first advance earth observation satellite Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS) along with 30 other satellites from eight countries. These satellites were launched on board of ISRO’s workhorse PSLV-C43 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

About mission

PSLV-C43 was 45th flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) with combined payload of 641.5kg. It was ‘Core Alone’ version of PSLV i.e. lightest version of the launch vehicle. PSLV is four stage launch vehicle with alternating solid and liquid stages. HysIS weighing around 380 kg was primary payload of this PSLV-C43 mission.

The co-passengers of HysIS include 1 micro and 29 nano satellites from eight different countries including one each from Australia, Canada, Columbia, Finland, Malaysia, Netherlands, Spain and 23 from US. All these satellites were commercially contracted for launch through ISRO’s commercial arm Antrix Corporation Limited. All these satellites were placed in 504 km orbit.

The satellites were ejected in two orbits by restarting rocket’s fourth-stage engine twice. PSLV first  had released HysIS into orbit at 636 km 17 minutes after launch. Later engine of rocket’s fourth stage were restarted to place remaining satellites into desired orbits.

Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS)

It is India’s first hyperspectral imaging satellite for advanced earth observation developed indigenously by ISRO. Globally so far, very few space agencies have such a satellite (so India is not first to launch it). It was placed in 636 km-polar sun synchronous orbit with an inclination of 97.957 degree. It has mission life is five years. Its primary goal is to study earth’s surface in visible near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of electromagnetic spectrum withina bandwidth of 400nm-2500nm wavelength (This include visible, near infrared and far infrared bands of spectrum). Optical imaging detector chip is heart of this satellite which has been indigenously designed by Space Application Centre of ISRO and fabricated at its semi-conductor lab at Chandigarh.

Applications of HysIS

The hyperspectral imaging satellite technology will be added advantage in watching over India from space across sectors including defence, agriculture, land use and mineral exploration.  It will be primarily used in Agriculture, Forestry, Soil Survey, Geology, Coastal Zone Studies, Inland water Studies, Environmental monitoring, Pollution Detection from Industries.

Hyperspectral imaging

Hyperspectral imaging or hyspex imaging (imaging spectroscopy) combines power of digital imaging and spectroscopy. It collects and processes information from across electromagnetic spectrum. Hyspex’ imaging enables distinct identification of objects, materials or processes on Earth by reading spectrum for each pixel of scene from space. The hyspex technology is still evolving science. In recent times, it has become trend that is being experimented globally. It has ability to add new dimension to plain-vanilla optical imagers.

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