TAMPA, Fla. – Indian startup Digantara said on July 6 that the ROBI for space weather monitoring is operational aboard a used upper stage of India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
The company said the experimental payload successfully transmitted data from PSLV’s Orbital Experimental Platform (POEM), which launched on June 30 as part of the rocket’s primary mission to place three satellites in low Earth orbit for Singapore. .
It is the first time that the fourth stage of the PSLV has been stabilized in LEO with a special navigation guidance and control system after its primary mission, according to the Indian ISRO space agency.
POEM will have solar panels, steering propellers and other equipment to act as a hosted payload bus after launch.
The platform will carry a total of six payloads, including a satellite system developed by Indian startup Dhruva Space.
Dhruva Space said its Satellite Orbital Deployer has already achieved the mission’s space qualification.
Digantara’s ROBI, or robust integrating proton fluence meter, aims to test space weather measurement and analysis capabilities for the startup’s future space-situational awareness platform.
Digantara plans to deploy a satellite early next year to demonstrate how light-detection and distance sensors (LIDAR) — combined with space weather data — would allow it to track space objects with greater precision than other systems in sunlight and eclipse phases.
Shreyas Mirji, Digantara’s head of business and strategy, said the startup has established communications with ROBI, “and has received the first batch of data sets and reviews are currently underway.”
Digantara and Dhruva Space recently became the first private companies in India to receive approval from the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe), an autonomous government agency, for their space activities.
Glad IN-SPACe has issued the first two authorizations to the private sector for space activities. Best wishes to Dhruvaspace and Digantara for a successful launch of their Payload aboard ISRO’s C53 mission on June 30. @INSPACEIND @isro @PMOIndia pic.twitter.com/Xj5TliQ0pU
— Pawan K Goenka (@GoenkaPk) June 26, 2022
India announced the creation of IN-SPACe in June 2020 to promote, authorize and oversee non-governmental space activities in the country.
IN-SPACe, which comes under the Indian Department of Space, regulates private space companies in the country and their use of facilities owned by the Government of India.
Mirji described IN-SPACe’s initial authorizations as “truly the pivotal point for private space operations in India.”
He said India’s space ecosystem is “undergoing tremendous change” as the country’s government recognizes the role it must play in building a resilient economy.
“This has gone well beyond the stakeholder consultation promises in the drafting of India’s first comprehensive space law to be tabled shortly before parliament,” he said.
The specific space legislation is intended to provide clarity for private companies, which the government hopes will encourage more investors and activities in the country’s space industry.
The largest satellite on the June 30 PSLV mission was the 365-kilogram DS-EO, a high-resolution Earth observation spacecraft for Singapore.
The mission also carried NeuSAR, Singapore’s first synthetic-aperture radar observation satellite, and the SCOOB 1 solar monitoring cubes developed by Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.