The countdown for the flight Thursday night of an Indian rocket carrying the Microsat R imaging satellite of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Kalamsat student satellite has already begun, an Indian space agency official said. “The countdown for the launch of PSLV-C44 mission started on January 23, 2019, at 7.23 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. The launch is scheduled at 11.37 PM on January 24, 2019,” a mission update by ISRO said.
“We will be launching the 700-kg Microsat R and Kalamsat with a new PSLV variant. “To reduce weight and increase the mass, an aluminum tank is being used for the first time in the fourth stage,” ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had told IANS earlier. He said Kalamsat is a payload developed by students and Chennai-based Space Kidz India. The PSLV is a four-stage engine expendable rocket with alternating solid and liquid fuel.
In its normal configuration, the rocket would have six strap-on motors hugging the its first stage. However, the PSLV that would be flying on January 24 with Microsat R and Kalamsat will be a two strap-on motors configuration and is designated as PSLV-DL. The rocket PSLV-C44 is the first mission of PSLV-DL and is a new variant. About 14 minutes into the flight the rocket would eject Microsat R at an altitude of about 277km. This would start functioning at an altitude of 450km in about the 103th minute after lift-off. The Kalamsat would be the first to use the rocket’s fourth stage as an orbital platform. The fourth stage would be moved to a higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments, ISRO had said.
“The Kalamsat is a 10cm cube nano-satellite weighing about 1.2kg. The satellite’s life span is about two months and its cost is about Rs 12 lakh,” Srimathy Kesan, Founder-CEO of Space Kidz India, told IANS. Space Kidz India is working towards promoting art, science and culture for students in India. According to Kesan, Kalamsat will be the first satellite of Space Kidz India to be in a proper orbit as its earlier satellites were suborbital ones.