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ISRO’s POEM-3 mission marks another ‘milestone’; Zero debris re-entry achieved

The ISRO has termed it “another milestone”.

“The PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission has practically left zero debris in orbit,” the space agency said.

The operation took place on January 1, 2024. Following the successful placement of all satellites into their designated orbits, the final stage of the PSLV was converted into a 3-axis stabilized platform known as POEM-3.

This stage was then deorbited from an altitude of 650 km to 350 km, enabling an expedited re-entry process. Additionally, measures were taken to passivate the stage, including the removal of residual propellants, to reduce the potential risks associated with accidental break-ups.

POEM-3 was configured with a total of 9 different experimental payloads to carry out technology demonstrations and scientific experiments on the newly developed indigenous systems. Out of these, six payloads were delivered by NGEs through IN-SPACe. The mission objectives of these payloads were met in a month.

The orbital altitude of the upper stage continued to decay under the influence of natural forces, primarily atmospheric drag with the module (NORAD ID 58695) expected to have impacted the North Pacific Ocean (Lat 6.4 N & Long 158.7 W) on March 21, 2024, at 14:04 UTC (19:34 Hrs. IST).

Through the POEM, which serves as a very cost-effective platform for carrying out short-duration space-borne experiments, ISRO has opened up new vistas for academia, startups, and NGEs to experiment with their new payloads. This novel opportunity has been effectively utilized by numerous startups, universities, and NGEs for carrying out experiments in space, which included electric thrusters, satellite dispensers, and star-tracking. POEM also incorporates new features such as total avionics in single-chain configuration, industrial-grade components in avionics packages including Mission Management Computer, standard interfaces for electric power, telemetry & telecommand, and new in-orbit navigation algorithms making use of rate-gyro, sun sensor, and magnetometer.

Also Read: Watch Video: ISRO nails it again! successfully carries out landing experiment of RLV vehicle Pushpak

For the effective conduct of experiments onboard in POEM-3, the body rates were stabilized to less than 0.5 deg/s throughout, and innovative schemes like controlled dumping of residual propellant after the main mission were introduced to minimize disturbances due to passivation.

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) has taken the lead in conceptualizing and realizing the POEM by augmenting the 4th stage of PSLV.

PSLV-C58/XPoSat is the third such mission in the series, with POEMs being successfully scripted each time. The payload operations were carried out effectively by the spacecraft operations team from the mission operations complex (MOX) at ISTRAC and ISRO’s System for Safe and Sustainable Spacecraft Operations Management (IS4OM) has been monitoring and analyzing the orbital decay all through.

Also Read: Chandrayaan 4 mission will be ‘extremely challenging’: ISRO chief Somanath shares details about next lunar project

Till near re-entry, POEM-3 was tracked by ISTRAC ground stations. The Multi-Object Tracking Radar (MOTR) at Shriharikota also tracked the PS4 stage till the morning of March 21. POEM-3 was also supported by other Centres like URSC, LPSC and IISU.

ISRO affirmed its dedication to offering a cost-efficient orbital experiment platform. Recognizing the escalating danger posed by space debris, particularly with the emergence of numerous small satellite constellations, the agency emphasized the substantial threat it poses to space operations, encompassing satellite launches, human spaceflight endeavours, and exploration missions.

In line with its ethos as a responsible space agency, ISRO pledged to address this challenge by advancing debris tracking systems, developing technologies for space object deorbiting, and promoting responsible practices for satellite deployment. By doing so, ISRO aims to safeguard orbital environments, ensuring their viability for both current and future space missions.

(With inputs from ANI)


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Published: 26 Mar 2024, 06:41 AM IST

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