Spacetech platform Pixxel, which provides Earth imaging technology, has successfully launched its first full-fledged commercial imaging satellite, Shakuntala. It is part of its last 36-satellite planned constellation aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare mission.
The satellite ‘Shakuntala’ will help Pixxel roll out its hyperspectral satellite imagery and satellite-based data analytics services to pilot customers.
Pixxel Chief Executive Officer, Awais Ahmed said that the startup will now look to complete its second launch of its first technology demonstrator satellite named Anand in an upcoming mission with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). India’s Earth Observation Satellite (EOS)-6, part of the Indian Ocean program is expected to be launched later in the coming months.
Eos-6 will be the primary payload on ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), one of the two secondary payloads of Pixxel’s Ananda satellite mission. However, the Oceansat mission is operating on a delayed timeline, so the Eos-6 launch may miss the April 2022 launch window.
Los Angeles and Bangalore based Spacetech platform Pixxel was founded by Awais Ahmed and Kshitij Khandelwal in 2019, It is a hyperspectral imaging startup, a technology that can analyze the broad spectrum of light in an image, instead of just assigning a primary color (red, green, blue) to each pixel. It allows getting rich data and more information from a particular image.
The satellite will take about an hour to be deployed in a low-Earth orbit. The orbit is about 520km above Earth. For the next two weeks after deployment, we will carry out technical tests to ensure that everything is in order. About a month later, from around May, we will start offering some amounts of data to our clients to demonstrate the abilities of our services,” he added.
Ahmed also said that after two launches in 2022, the startup will try to complete six launches in the first quarter of 2023. This will be followed by 12 more launches by the end of 2023, which should bring the entire company group above full-performing capacity.
The satellite has been launched just days after the startup raised $25 million in new funding round from Canada-based Radical Ventures.