MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: At the stroke of midnight on Monday, Elon Musk-led US space agency SpaceX launched India’s first privately built satellite Exseed Sat-1 along with 63 other satellites from 17 countries. After being repeatedly postponed for 10 days owing to technical and weather reasons, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket took off at 12.10 am on Tuesday (IST) from the Vandenberg air force base in California. Over 43 minutes after the launch, Falcon 9 placed Exceed Sat-1 into the polar orbit.
With this launch, Mumbai-based Exseed Space has become the first private commercial organisation in India to have a satellite in space.
The mini communication satellite, weighing just a kg with double the size of a Rubik’s cube, looks to serve the amateur radio community, and will help in coordinating messages among them and help the country in time of disaster. Built in just 18 months, Exseed Sat-1 will allow people to receive signals on 145.9 Mhz frequency with the help of a TV tuner. It has also paved the way for private-funded space missions.
After the launch, Kris Nair, CEO of Exseed Space, tweeted: “Typically it takes years and millions of dollars to put together one satellite. With the successful launch of Exseed SAT 1, the team has now demonstrated that it is possible to build reliable commercial-grade spacecraft in a matter of months without spending a lot of money.”
Though Exseed Sat-1 has broken Isro’s monopoly in building satellites, the Indian space agency of late has been encouraging private players to form a small consortium to undertake satellite and rocket manufacturing work so that it can focus on R&D.
The startup belongs to India’s new-gen space organisations like the Bengalaru-based Team Indus which aims to land on the moon, and the Chennai-based Space Kidz India which broke an international space record with the launch of the world’s lightest and tiniest satellite, KalamSat-1 by NASA on June 22, 2017.
Interestingly, Falcon 9 rocket also carried cremated remains of 100 people, mostly military veterans and aerospace enthusiasts, to space. However, it won’t be the first time someone’s earthly remains were sent to be among the stars. In 1998, a small vial of astronomer Eugene Shoemaker’s ashes crashed into the moon as part of Nasa’s lunar prospector mission and remains on the surface.