ISRO Launches Six Satellites for Singapore

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BANGALORE, India — The Indian Space Research Organisation on Dec. 16 successfully launched six Singaporean satellites aboard a PSLV rocket, including TeLEOS-1, Singapore’s first domestically built commercial Earth observation spacecraft.

The televised launch — PSLV’s 31st straight success — took place at 6 p.m. local time from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the southeastern India. The six satellites, built by organizations including defense manufacturer Singapore Technologies Electronics (ST Electronics), the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), were placed into a 550-kilometer circular orbit inclined at 15 degrees relative to the equator.

PSLV with Singapore's TeLEOS-1 on the launch pad. Credit: ISRO
PSLV with Singapore’s TeLEOS-1 on the launch pad. Credit: ISRO

At 400 kilograms, TeLEOS-1, designed and developed by ST Electronics, was the heaviest of the six satellites, which weighed a combined 625 kilograms. TeLEOS-1 carries a camera that can take pictures with 1-meter ground resolution.

In a Dec. 16 press release, ST Electronics said the satellite covers major shipping routes and disaster- and fire-prone regions with a mean revisit time of 12-16 hours. The launch was a major step for Singapore’s space industry and marks ST Engineering’s arrival as a player, Lee Fook Sun, the company’s deputy chief executive, said in a statement.

The co-passengers on the launch were:

  • NTU’s Velox-C1 microsatellite for tropical weather monitoring and Velox-2, a cubesat technology demonstrator carrying a communications payload.
  • The Kent Ridge-1 microsatellite and a cubesat for monitoring electrons in the ionosphere over Singapore, both developed by the NUS.
  • Athenoxat-1, a remote sensing nanosatellite built by Microspace Rapid Pvt. Ltd. in Singapore.

B. Sivakumar, a senior ISRO scientist associated with the project, said Singapore’s choice of ISRO to launch its first commercial satellite shows the confidence the world has in the PSLV.

In a statement, ISRO said its commercial arm, Antrix Corp., has launched 51 satellites for customers from 20 countries aboard the PSLV. The heaviest of these, at 712 kilograms, were the French Spot 6 and Spot 7 Earth observation satellites.

Indian Science Minister Jitendra Singh told the Parliament Dec. 16 that the Singapore government paid 26 million euros ($30 million) for the launch.