Elon Musk’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launches India’s first commercial satellite ‘Shakuntala’ – why this is stunning moment for ‘desi’ space firms

Pixxel, the Indian Spacetech startup has launched its first commercial satellite called `Shakuntala ‘. This is a full-fledged commercial satellite that has been launched with Elon Musk-run SpaceX`s Falcon-9 rocket. The satellite hosts one of the highest resolution hyperspectral commercial cameras that have ever been flown to space, which brings it a step closer to building a 24 × 7 health monitor for the planet.

The satellite was launched on Friday with SpaceX`s Transporter-4 mission from Cape Canaveral in the US. The launch puts the company within touching distance of its ambitious mission to assemble one of the world`s most advanced constellations of low-earth-orbit imaging satellites.

CEO of Pixxel, Awais Ahmed said that in 2017 from being one of the very few finalists in the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition to launching a satellite as part of SpaceX`s fourth rideshare mission, life has come full circle.

Shakuntala (TD-2) weighs less than 15 Kg and is capable of capturing orbital images in more than 150 bands of color from the visible and infrared spectrum with a resolution of 10-meters per pixel that exceeds the specificity of 30-meters per pixel hyperspectral satellites, which was launched by a few select organizations like ESA, NASA and ISRO.

Shakuntala will begin amassing information in just a few weeks from launch and will uncover the invisible changes of our planet like deforestation, natural gas leakages, pollution, declining crop health and melting ice caps.

Pixxel had recently raised $ 25 million from Seraphim Space Capital, Radical Ventures, Relativity Space co-founder Jordan Noone, Lightspeed Partners, Blume Ventures, and Sparta LLC among others in a Series A funding, in addition to over fifty customers who have signed pre- launch agreements from industries across oil and gas, agriculture, climate sector and mining.

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