Spaceflight Current Affairs - 2019

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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.

ISRO successfully launches communication satellite GSAT-29

Communication satellite GSAT-29 was launched successfully by the second developmental flight of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV MKIII-D2) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.


Communication satellite GSTA-29 weighing 3,423 kg is a multiband and multi-beam satellite. The mission life will be 10 years.

The satellite’s Ku-band and Ka-band payloads will cater to the communication needs of people residing in remote parts of the country especially those from Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern regions. Similarly, the satellite’s Q/V-Band communication payload will help in demonstrating the future high throughput satellite system technologies. Additionally, the onboard Geo High Resolution Camera will help in carrying out high resolution imaging. The onboard Optical Communication Payload will showcase a very high rate data transmission through optical communication link. This unique laser based optical communication is being tested for the first time by the ISRO.


GSLV MKIII is ISRO’s fifth generation three stage heavy lift launch vehicle. The launch vehicle is capable of placing satellites weighing 4000 kg in GTO. The first stage constitutes two massive boosters with solid propellants. The core with liquid propellant and the cryogenic engine constitutes the second and third stages respectively.

  • The weight of GSLV Mark III is 641 tons roughly equals the weight of five fully loaded passenger aircrafts. GSLV MarkIII, which took 15 years to make, is the heaviest among India’s operational launch vehicles. Also, with only 43 meters tall, it is also the shortest launch vehicles.
  • GSLV MKIII will be used to launch Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan missions.


With the success of this flight, the Indian Space programme has achieved a significant milestone as the heaviest launcher (GSLV MKIII) lifted off the heaviest satellite (GSAT-29). The success of this mission is also an important milestone for the Indian space programme as it showcases the self-reliance of ISRO in launching heavier satellites. Also, the launch also signifies the completion of the experimental phase of GSLV MarkIII. The first successful mission of GSLV MarkIII was in 2014. In 2017, GSLV Mark III-D1 placed 3150 kg GSAT-19, a high throughput communication satellite into Geostationary Transfer orbit (GTO).

The launch of GSAT-29 communication satellite will pave for bridging the digital divide in the country. The launch of the satellite is also expected to aid Digital India Programme. The satellite is also intended to serve as a test bed for several new and critical next generation payload technologies. GSAT-29 is the 33rd communication satellite of India.

The successful flight of GSAT-29 will constitute a series of experimental flights that will help in developing the heaviest rocket for the manned space missions of the ISRO. ISRO’s manned mission Gaganyaan is expected to lift of three Indian astronauts into space for a seven days trip to the Low-Earth Orbit. The mission is slated for 2022.