Normally, the fourth stage of a rocket becomes a part of space debris orbiting the earth, or falls down to earth as junk, after releasing the satellites in their space orbits

Bangalore: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Saturday for the first time used the fourth stage of its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle as an orbital platform with deployed solar panels to carry out experiments using seven Indian payloads embedded in it.

Normally, the fourth stage of a rocket becomes a part of space debris orbiting the earth, or falls down to earth as junk, after releasing the satellites in their space orbits.

But ISRO’s experiment, initiated on Saturday after the launch from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, in Andhra Pradesh, at 2.19 pm, is a game-changer: it uses the fourth stage to orbit with the embedded payloads within to allow ground-based space scientists to control the experiments on them through commands from the ground stations. This will happen even as the solar panels on the fourth stage, deployed facing the sun, keep powering it throughout its orbits around the earth.

This part of the mission is called PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-2 (POEM-2). It was initiated after the PSLV-C55 launcher released two Singaporean satellites — TeLEOS-2, the primary satellite, and Lumelite-4, as a co-passenger — in their respective space orbits as part of a commercial launch by ISRO’s commercial arm, New Space India Ltd.

More ‘POEMs’ Soon With Seven Payloads: ISRO Chief

The four embedded, or non-separating, payloads on board PSLV-C55’s fourth stage belong to ISRO, Bellatrix, Dhruva Space and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA). The embedded payloads included PiLOT (PSLV In orbitaL Obc and Thermals) and ARIS-2 (Advanced Retarding potential analyser for Ionospheric Studies) experiment from ISRO’s Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), Thiruvananthapuram; HET-based ARKA200 Electric Propulsion System from Bellatrix; DSOD-3U and DSOD-6U deployer units along with DSOL-Transceiver in S- & X- bands from Dhruva Space and Starberry Sense Payload from IIA.

Announcing the success of POEM-2, ISRO Chairman S Somanath said POEM-2 “is going to write some more poems” with the seven payloads. He referred to the upper stage (the fourth stage) of a rocket being attached with deployable solar panels for the first time as “another exciting thing to happen.”

The 741 Kg TeLEOS-2 satellite is developed under a partnership between DSTA (representing the Government of Singapore) and ST Engineering. Once deployed and operational, it will be used to support the satellite imagery requirements of various agencies within the Government of Singapore. TeLEOS-2 will provide all-weather day and night coverage, and be capable of imaging at 1m full-polarimetric resolution.

The 16 Kg Lumelite-4 satellite is co-developed by the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R) of A*STAR and Satellite Technology and Research Centre (STAR) of the National University of Singapore. It is an advanced satellite developed for technological demonstration of the High-Performance Space-borne VHF Data Exchange System (VDES). Using the VDES communication payload developed by I2R and STAR’s scalable satellite bus platform, it aims to augment Singapore’s e-navigation maritime safety and benefit the global shipping community.

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