It is the ninth satellite in the Cartosat series, developed by the space agency under the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) programme. First launched in the late 1980s under the IRS series, the programme was later replaced with Cartosat. However, unlike its predecessors, Cartosat-3 has the highest resolution ever and a high rate of data-transfer.
The satellite lifted off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh aboard one of Isro’s most reliable rockets, the PSLV-C47, at 9.28 a.m. It was cloudy at the time of the launch, but the low wind speed proved favourable.
An Earth-observation satellite weighing nearly 1,625kg, it was placed into a low Earth orbit, 509km above the Earth’s surface. It has panchromatic cameras with a resolution of 0.25 metres, the highest so far for any Earth imaging spacecraft.
The satellite separated from the mission module within 17.3 minutes of launch. With a mission life of five years, it would map the Earth’s surface, providing exhaustive detailed topographic and geo-spatial data which would be vital for management and monitoring of land resources, urban planning, disaster management and coastal surveys.
PSLV-C47 also carried 13 other commercial nano satellites from the US as part of a commercial pact with NewSpace India Ltd, Isro’s commercial arm.
“Cartosat-3 is the most complex and advanced Earth observation satellite built by Isro," said Isro chairman K. Sivan, while congratulating the team. He said the agency has 11 more launches scheduled until March.
The mission comes over five months after Isro launched its second mission to the Moon—Chandrayaan 2. Comprising an orbiter, lander Vikram and rover Pragyan, it was launched from Sriharikota on 22 July and a soft landing on the moon was attempted on 7 September.
While the orbiter continues to revolve around the moon conducting all the experiments as expected, the lander Vikram could not successfully land on the lunar surface and lost contact. Attempts to establish contact with it has so far not yielded any result.