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Private sector satellites to boost IoT, ham radio use, earth observation

From helping machines to talk to each other to monitoring the health of the earth, the private sector satellites launched onboard Indian Space Research Organisation’s PSLV C-54 mission on Saturday are set to write a new chapter as space sector reforms take root in the country.

Besides the Earth Observation-06 satellite of ISRO, the PSLV C-54 mission also placed in orbit six other satellites including Anand, developed by Bengaluru-based Pixxel, Thybolt 1&2 built by Hyderabad-based DhruvaSpace and four nanosatellites for Switzerland-based Astrocast which is building constellation of satellites dedicated to Internet of Things (IoT).

The PSLV also placed in orbit India-Bhutan SAT, jointly developed with Bhutan, that will provide high resolution images to the Himalayan nation to better manage its natural resources.

“Anand is a hyperspectral microsatellite that can see the earth in a lot more detail than the conventional non-hyperspectral satellites,” Pixxel CEO Awais Ahmed told PTI.

He said the imagery from Pixxel’s satellites can be used to detect pest infestation, map forest fires, leakages in oil pipelines using hyperspectral data.

Anand is Pixxel’s third hyperspectral satellite, following the launch of Shakuntala in April 2022 and a demonstration satellite that went up in 2021.

“We are developing six commercial hyperspectral imagery satellites which will be ready for launch next year,” Ahmed said.

The two Thybolt satellites developed by DhruvaSpace will demonstrate the ability of conducting amateur satellite communication which will help ham radio operations.

“We anticipate this will encourage individuals, institutions and corporations to embrace the knowledge that amateur radio can contribute to their overall development,” Sanjay Nekkanti, CEO of DhruvaSpace told PTI.

“Today’s launch is a testimony of the determination of the Indian private space industry to take up new challenges and push for the growth of the Indian Space economy, which has huge potential” Lt Gen A K Bhatt, Director General of Indian Space Association (IsPA) said.

He said according to the ISpA-EY report, the satellite services and application segment is expected to form the largest share of the space economy in the country accounting for 36 per cent, followed by satellite manufacturing.

The Astrocast network of satellites enables companies to monitor, track, and communicate with remote assets from anywhere in the world using L-band spectrum.

Astrocast’s IoT service includes tracking shipping containers across the globe to monitor supply chains; enabling farmers to command silos to release food, open gates or manage irrigation systems, without any need for expensive and often hard-to-source human interaction,” Fatima Vigil, the Head of Marketing at Astrocast told PTI.

The IoT service also allows utility companies to remotely control water management systems in line with flood prevention strategies. PTI

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