A British satellite has gone into orbit on an Indian rocket to acquire full-colour, high-definition video of the surface of the Earth. The demonstrator is expected to pave the way for a series of at least 15 such spacecraft, which will be operated by the Guildford-based company Earth-i.
The small, low-cost UK mission was one of 31 payloads riding on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It lifted off from the Satish Dhawan spaceport in Andhra Pradesh . Controllers made first contact with the UK satellite as planned within a few hours.
The spacecraft is a pre-production model. If it performs well over the coming months, its manufacturer, SSTL, also in Guildford, will proceed with Earth-i's first batch of five operational spacecraft. The contract for these platforms was signed in November.