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Tata’s made-in-India military satellite placed in orbit successfully using SpaceX rocket

Tata Group’s Tata Advanced Systems Limited has achieved a major milestone by successfully placing India’s first sub-meter-resolution earth observation satellite, the TSAT-1A, in orbit.

The private sector developed India’s first such satellite and built it in partnership with Satellogic. The rocket was launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 7.

This groundbreaking satellite, assembled at TASL’s Karnataka facility, marks a historic moment as part of SpaceX’s inaugural Bandwagon flight, which deployed 11 satellites.

TSAT-1A promises to revolutionize satellite imaging with its high-resolution capabilities and swift data delivery. With its low-earth orbit configuration and weight of less than 50 kg, the satellite is poised to serve diverse applications, notably the Indian armed forces.

Following its launch, TSAT-1A is poised to serve as a crucial asset primarily catering to governmental and military requirements, offering high-resolution imagery tailored to military-grade standards.

While the Indian government and armed forces remain the primary clients, the Economic Times reported plans to expand services to the commercial sector. Efforts are underway to establish a ground center in India for data processing and download, indicating a strategic move toward operational readiness.

India’s current inventory of military spy satellites, primarily developed by ISRO, is limited. TASL, however, aims to address this gap by envisioning a constellation of similar satellites in the future. Reports suggest that the company’s manufacturing facility is equipped to produce up to 25 low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites annually in collaboration with Satellogic Inc., a key player in sub-meter-resolution earth observation satellites.

Despite ISRO’s satellite capabilities, which include imagery sharing, their application is constrained by coverage limitations. Consequently, India has often relied on US companies to meet its imaging needs, a dependency accentuated by recent tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

These developments underscore the significance of TSAT-1A and TASL’s broader ambitions to bolster India’s indigenous satellite capabilities to meet evolving national security and strategic requirements.

Sukaran Singh, CEO and MD of TASL, hailed this achievement as a significant leap forward for India’s space sector, especially for private players, while emphasizing its potential impact on both the governmental and commercial sectors.

Singh underscored the strategic advantages of TSAT-1A’s inclined orbit, which enables it to revisit certain areas of interest more frequently than traditional satellites in Sun Synchronous Polar Orbits (SSPO).

TASL’s comprehensive approach involves satellite assembly, integration, testing, launch services, and other related activities through partnerships with organizations with launch capabilities, such as SpaceX and ISRO.

Furthermore, the company also offers data processing services and operates a satellite control center.

Emiliano Kargieman, CEO of Satellogic, commended the collaborative effort that brought TSAT-1A to fruition and highlighted Satellogic’s adaptable Space Systems program. This program offers tailored satellite solutions to governments and enterprises, ensuring timely deployment to orbit.

The successful launch of TSAT-1A signifies a remarkable achievement in India’s space industry, demonstrating the nation’s growing prowess in satellite technology and private-sector innovation.

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