The India-Bhutan SAT (INS-2B), launched on November 26, 2022, with a mission life of six months, is exceeding expectations by continuing its operations for several additional months.

ISRO Nano Satellite-2 for Bhutan (INS-2B) spacecraft is configured with the INS-2 Bus. INS-2B will have two payloads namely NanoMx and APRS-Digipeater. NanoMx is a multispectral optical imaging payload developed by Space Applications Centre (SAC). The APRS-Digipeater payload is jointly developed by DITT-Bhutan and U R Rao Satellite Centre, Bangalore.

Despite its expected operational lifetime of six months, the satellite has been functioning nominally, and it is anticipated to remain in orbit for an additional six months, during which data reception is expected to continue.

However, the exact duration of the satellite’s orbital lifespan remains uncertain.

Comparatively, the Bhutan-1 satellite, which initially had a six-month lifespan, remained operational for two years and three months, completing over 13,000 orbits around the Earth.

Weighing 17.8 kg, the India-Bhutan SAT serves two primary functions: acquiring optical images using a high-resolution camera and broadcasting text messages from orbit for amateur radio users.

The satellite is currently engaged in preliminary studies, including landslide inventory mapping in southwestern Bhutan, urban settlement mapping of Thimphu, and solar potential assessment of Samtse.

These studies, conducted in collaboration with various agencies such as the Department of Forest and Parks Services and the Department of Human Settlement, utilize joint satellite image data to explore the applicability of satellite imagery for various applications.

Operational commands, including image capture, are transmitted from ground stations operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). The received images and satellite parameter data are processed locally at GovTech ground stations.

Due to limitations in data transmission capacity, a network of strategically located ground stations is utilised to download full-scene image data. GovTech ground stations, along with ISRO’s network, facilitate the downloading of satellite image data, which is then processed at a primary data center.

The satellite achieves a ground spatial resolution of 29 meters from its orbit at 506 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. However, challenges such as low resolution and high cloud cover can hinder its effectiveness for high-end applications.

Any technical issues encountered are jointly addressed by GovTech in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).