Bengaluru: In the midst of a raging controversy, Pixxel, on Tuesday 23 February, cited “some software issues” as the reason and called off the much hyped and publicised launch of its satellite through ISRO’s PSLV later this month.
It was in the fag end of 2020 that Pixxel had signed an agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), a state-run company under Department of Space, to launch the country’s first private remote-sensing satellite on an ISRO PSLV rocket. The announcement in this regard got entangled into huge controversy as news spread that ISRO chief K Sivan was going out of his way to offer the satellite launch facility to a US based company at subsidised rates on the pretext of encouraging Indian startups. Newsroom24x7 was the first to expose that PIxxel is registered as a company in the US and is not an Indian start up as it was being projected by ISRO and more particularly the ISRO Chief.
“The Department of Space is happy to have one of India’s leading private space start-ups, Pixxel, onboard with this mission. We realize the potential that Pixxel’s earth imaging satellites have to solve some pressing issues of our time and we are looking forward to a positive outcome from this launch,” Department of Space Secretary and ISRO Chairman K. Sivan had said in the statement last year.
Before entering into an agreement with NSIL, Pixxel had announced last year that their first satellite was scheduled to be launch towards the end of the 2020 on a Russian Soyuz rocket. According to available information, it is after this that ISRO and NSIL brought Pixxel on board by offering them financial benefit/incentive for launching their satellite through PSLV C51.
Sources have informed that the PMO and the Cabinet Secretary took strong exception and told the ISRO Chief and the Scientific Secretary, ISRO, to charge Pixxel on commercial.basis.
In a statement published on twitter on 23 February Pixxel has said: “Due to certain software issues that surfaced during the final satellite testing, we have decided not to proceed with our launch on the PSLV C51 mission scheduled for the 28th of this month. Given the time and effort that has gone into making the satellite, it did not make sense to rush a satellite to launch in which we do not have complete condence (confidence?) at this time. We have thus decided to push aur launch by a few weeks, reevaluate the satellite software, and test it rigorously over the next few weeks as we look for the next closest launch opportunity.
We would like to specially thank the ISRO, IN-SPACe and NSIL teams for the immense support they have been to us during this entire endeavour. From making testing facilities available to our satellite to providing support over the entire launch campaign. the help has been very encouraging to see We wish the PSLV C51 mission the absolute best as it takes off on 28th Feb, 2021, albeit without us.
We’ll keep you posted as we gear up for the launch.”