Why the PSLV-C37 launch is a ‘big deal’ for commercial Earth Observation

A record-breaking launch that will take Planet's constellation to 100 doves!


Rocket launches are always exciting but tomorrow’s PSLV-C37 mission is probably the most exciting mission for someone following the developments in the commercial Earth Observation industry.

The Indian Space Organization (ISRO) will attempt to launch 104 satellites (which is a record in itself) during the PSLV-C37 (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) mission, including 88 “dove” nanosatellites belonging to Planet Labs and 8 Lemur-2 nanosatellites for Spire Global. Besides the nanosatellites, ISRO will also be launching Cartosat-2D, an 714kg Indian Earth Observation satellite with panchromatic and multi-spectral sensors on board. Cartosat-2D will have the same features and sensors as the earlier Cartosat-2 series satellites.

The list of satellites to be launched during the PSLV-C37 mission. Source: Wikipedia

Planet’s Doves! 

The 88 satellites onboard PSLV-C37 are the largest fleet of satellites to be launched in its history. Planet’s Dove satellites collectively known as “Flock 3p” will be put in a Sun Synchronous Orbit at an altitude of approximately 500km, joining the current 12
“Flock-2p” Dove satellites which are an in a similar orbit. Interestingly, the Flock-2p satellites were also launched by ISRO, earlier last year during the PSLV-C34 mission.

With this launch, Planet will officially have 100 Dove satellites imaging the Earth each day. February is indeed turning out to be an important month for the Earth Observation startup, who just a few days ago announced the acquisition of Terra Bella from Google (Read: Planet Labs acquired Google’s satellite imagery unit – Terra Bella).

With 97 Earth Observation satellites being launched as part of the PSLV-C37 launch, it is an important mission for the Earth Observation industry as a whole.

I am one of those passionate "Geo-geeks" and "Geo-people" who is just too excited about everything Geo and Management. Location information and spatial technologies are just too big to take a back seat and watch them revolutionize the world. Always curious and looking for ways to innovate, I guess that it comes naturally by the gene pool I inherited from an engineer Mom and a researcher Dad.


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