India’s space diplomacy: Why Colombian satellite launch is a major victory for the country

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New Delhi | Updated: November 29, 2018 4:54:45 PM

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday successfully launched the PSLV-C43/HysIS mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. It was a major boost for the 60 years of India-Colombia relations.

Many countries in the LatAm region including Colombia have been looking towards the US for space and military matters.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Thursday successfully launched the PSLV-C43/HysIS mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. It was a major boost for the 60 years of India-Colombia relations.

Diplomatic sources who wished to remain anonymous told Financial Express Online that, “The fact that a satellite from the South American nation Colombia was a co-passenger on board the PSLV-C43, is a big achievement for Indian Space diplomacy.”

“For India-Colombia relations on the cusp of 60 years, even space is not the limit,” said one senior Indian diplomat.

Many countries in the LatAm region including Colombia have been looking towards the US for space and military matters. “This launch of the Satellite from Colombia is also a signal to other countries in the region that the Indian Space agency has the capability of achieving inter-planetary missions in a cost-effective manner.”

Behind closed doors there were long hours of negotiations between both ISRO and officers from the Colombian Air Force for a long time before the launch was commercially contracted through Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of ISRO, revealed a senior officer.

Financial Express Online has been tracking India’s Space Diplomacy in the region for a while and it was the first to break news about Colombian Air Force ‘Facsat1’, which is 30 cm long and 10 metres high satellite to be launched onboard PSLV-C43.

It was after India’s successful Mars mission some years ago that which was proved that ISRO has the capability of achieving inter-planetary missions in a cost-effective manner, that several countries from across the globe have started looking at the agency for launching their satellites.

As reported earlier by the Financial Express Online, countries including Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Chile, Peru, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are reaching out to the space agency for launching or developing satellites.

Today’s mission the sixth one this year that has used a polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV), put HysIS – India’s own earth observation satellite, into orbit. As reported by FE earlier, the foreign satellites were placed in a 504 km orbit based on the request of the foreign customers.

While 23 satellites are from the US, the rest are from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Spain. Reportedly, so far over the years, ISRO has lifted and put in orbit 269 foreign satellites. The launch of these foreign satellites has been commercially contracted through Antrix Corporation Limited.

The HysIS is a state-of-the-art satellite. The heart of the satellite, a critical chip called the optical imaging detector array chip was designed by ISRO’s Satellite Applications Centre (SAC) and fabricated by Semi-Conductor Laboratory of ISRO. Hyperspectral imaging is an imaging spectroscopy which combines the power of digital imaging and spectroscopy.

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