Spacetech startup Pixxel’s first satellite to be launched in February 2021 on ISRO’s PSLV-C51 mission

Pixxel’s first satellite Anand will launch on PSLV-C51 early next year. Its data will help tackle issues like pest infestations, crop diseases, detecting forest fires, air and water pollution levels.
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Two weeks after Bengaluru-based satellite imaging startup Pixxel joined hands with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) for launching its satellite, Indian space agency ISRO announced that Pixxel’s first satellite Anand will be launched in its PSLV-C51 (polar satellite launch vehicle)mission in early 2021.

Taking to Twitter, the space agency said that the upcoming PSLV mission is special because it will be launching Anand from its Firefly fleet of earth observation satellites. 

Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched communication satellite 'CMS-01' onboard PSLV-C50 on December 17 from Sriharikota.

Post-launch, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said, “The next mission PSLV-C51 is special for us. It is special for the entire country. The government of India has initiated (reforms) and within eight months, the first satellite 'ANAND' from a startup called Pixel India, is going to be launched.”

Apart from this, two more satellites including  'SATISH SAT' by 'Space Kids India', and 'UNIT-SAT' by a consortium of universities will also be launched as a part of the PSLV-C51 mission.

According to an IANS report, apart from the three satellites by Indian private players, the primary payload of PSLV-C51 will be a Brazilian earth observation satellite named Amazonia.

PSLV-C50 was launched on December 17 from Sriharikota. [Image Credit: ISRO Official Twitter]

Pixxel, which was part of YourStory Tech30 this year, was founded in 2019 by Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal for building a constellation of about 30 Earth-imaging small satellites to be deployed in the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to monitor the planet 24x7 and provide data to enable organisations across the world to detect, monitor, and predict global phenomena in real-time.

“Anand is the first satellite in a series of satellites that Pixxel plans to build and will launch on the PSLV-C51 in Feb 2021. The data from Pixxel's satellite will be used to solve some of humanity's most pressing problems today such as flagging pest infestations and crop diseases in time, detecting forest fires early, tackling air and water pollution levels, detecting oil spills and gas leaks and mapping large scale geological changes among other things,” Awais, co-founder, Pixxel said in a statement.

The move follows the new space reforms announced earlier this year, which allowed the private players to work with ISRO and further develop the Indian space sector.

To encourage and support the private players and startups, IN-SPACe, an authorisation and regulatory body was established under the Department of Space (DOS), to enable private players to undertake space activities in India. 

According to Dr Sivan, PSLV-C51 mission will be the first of its kind in the country and will also initiate a new era of space reforms in India.  “I am sure that these private people will take this activity further and provide services for the entire country," he adds.

Apart from Pixxel, Chennai-based spacetech startup Agnikul Cosmos also entered into an agreement with DoS earlier this month under IN-SPACe entity to develop a launch vehicle.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta

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