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Bengaluru start-up Digantara launches Pushan Alpha satellite aboard SpaceX rocket

Digantara, a space tech start-up from Bengaluru, on January 3 successfully launched its second satellite Pushan-Alpha onboard SpaceX’s Transporter 6 mission.

This is the latest in the line of string of satellite launches that have taken place in the Indian space tech ecosystem. In 2022, Pixxel launched its Anand satellite from another SpaceX rocket, and Dhruva Space launched their Thybolt satellites from an ISRO launch vehicle.

Digantara’s satellite, named after the Hindu solar deity, will serve as a space weather testbed in sun-syncronous orbit (SSO). The European Space Agency (ESA) defines SSO, as a polar orbit (passing from north to south) where satellites travel over polar regions and are synchronous with the Sun.

Digantara’s Pushan-Alpha in the SSO will be used for enhancing space situational awareness (SSA) applications.

The European Union Satellite Centre describes SSA as the knowledge of the space environment, including location and function of space objects and space weather phenomena.

The Bengaluru-based space tech start up is building its own SSA capability with infrastructure both in ground and space with an aim to ensure sustainable space operations.

The firm recently signed an agreement with Government of Uttarakhand to establish India’s first commercial space situational observatory.The observatory is expected to be operational by Q2 of 2023, Digantara said in a statement.

The Indian Institute of Science (IISc)- incubated start-up received seed funding of USD 2.5 Million from Kalaari Capital in 2021. Since then it has been working on building its sovereign SSA capability.

In July 2022, Digantara launched its first satellite, ROBI, aboard an ISRO rocket. Like Pushan-Alpha, ROBI, is a space-based weather monitoring system.

What Pushan-Alpha will do
The mission has a threefold objective, Digantara said.

The first is to measure radiation in SSO. Secondly, it will assess particle radiation from the South Atlantic Anomaly, which is a weak spot in Earth’s magnetic field, and which protects the planet from high doses of solar wind and cosmic radiation.

Thirdly, it will also study the space for enhancing space debris modelling. Space debris are defunct human-made objects in space, such as satellites and so on. Debris modelling describes current and future debris movement.

“With the growing number of satellites being launched into space, space sustainability has been brought into serious question. Since the beginnings of space travel there has been a dearth of data associated with space situational awareness, and we are looking to help supplement this decades old paucity of data with our indigenously built technology and infrastructure. Pushan-alpha’s launch is another step in this direction ” said Anirudh Sharma, CEO of Digantara. Money Control

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