An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle blasted off and successfully deployed a military electronic surveillance satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland at two different altitudes Monday, before the rocket’s upper stage began an extended mission as a solar-powered experiment platform in low Earth orbit.
India debuted a new configuration of its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, featuring four strap-on boosters and an upper stage with solar arrays to generate electrical power, with a liftoff at 0357 GMT Monday (11:57 p.m. EDT Sunday). The mission lofted an Indian military satellite and 28 nanosatellites for companies in the United States, Lithuania, Spain and Switzerland.
An Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle is scheduled for liftoff Sunday night with an intelligence-gathering electronic surveillance satellite and 28 secondary payloads, including 20 Earth-imaging Dove nanosatellites for Planet, the U.S. company which criticized India’s anti-satellite test for generating space debris last week.
A Vega rocket fired into orbit Thursday night from French Guiana with Italy’s PRISMA hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellite, commencing a busy period for the Vega launcher program as engineers prepare for the debut of the more powerful Vega-C booster in early 2020 and study a lighter variant to better compete in the growing smallsat launch market.
Giulio Ranzo is the chief executive of Avio, the Italian company responsible for building the Vega rocket. Ranzo recently spoke with Spaceflight Now about the Vega rocket’s increasing launch rate, the debut of the new Vega C booster in 2020, and future plans to evolve the Vega design to compete with commercial microsatellite launchers.
A Soyuz rocket, with the help of a Fregat upper stage, delivered an Egyptian Earth observation satellite into a polar orbit at an altitude of more than 400 miles Thursday, overcoming an apparent technical problem after launching from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, according to Russian news reports.