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Updated January 5th, 2024 at 23:58 IST

Bellatrix Aerospace is open for business with successful space test on ISRO's PSLV-C58

Bellatrix Aerospace launched its Arka and Rudra payloads with ISRO's XPoSat on January 1 aboard the PSLV rocket which lifted off from Sriharikota.

ISRO
PSLV lifting off with the XPoSat. | Image:ISRO
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Bellatrix Aerospace has revealed that it successfully tested both its payloads in outer space launched with ISRO's XPoSat mission on January 1. In an official announcement on January 5, the Bengaluru based company confirmed its space qualification with the testing of Arka and Rudra payloads.

The two new technology demonstration missions were part of ten secondary payloads onboard the PSLV rocket which lifted off from Sriharikota.

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Arka is a Hall Effect Thruster which Bellatrix said is a 200W electric engine that utilises electricity instead of conventional propellants. According to the company, this type of engine offers superior fuel efficiency and more precise control thus offering longer life and easy manoeuvrability of satellites.

Bellatrix revealed that Arka is the world's first "Heaterless Hollow Cathode" in space. It has developed five different variants of Arka with varying discharge power ranging from 50 W to 5 kW. The Hall thruster was tested for the first time on April 22 last year during ISRO's PSLV-C55 mission. 

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The Arka Hall Effect Thruster. Image: Bellatrix Aerospace
Variants of the thrusters. Image: Bellatrix Aerospace

 

The second payload Rudra is a propulsion system which aims to replace hazardous and toxic hydrazine with non-toxic and greener propellants. Bellatrix says that Rudra is ideal for satellite missions with high thrust requirements. Interestingly, it is the world's first 3D printed positive expulsion tank for a CubeSat propulsion system and the first such thruster to undergo space qualification. 

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Rudra too comes in three different variants with varying thrust capacities - 1N, 5N and 100N. It was unveiled as the nation's first High Performance Green Propulsion system in 2022. 

The Rudra propulsion system during a test. Image: Bellatrix Aerospace
Variants of the Rudra propulsion system. Image: Bellatrix Aerospace

 

Both the payloads were tested aboard the PSLV Orbital Experiment Module-3 (POEM-3) which actually was the fourth spent stage (PS4) of the PSLV rocket. The PS4 was lowered to a 350-km orbit after injecting the XPoSat at its intended orbit of Rs 650 km.

"We are elated to report that both Rudra and Arka are operating in space as per design specifications. Upon firing of Rudra, a noticeable displacement of the POEM-3 platform was recorded, which was in-line with our simulations," said Rohan M Ganapathy, CEO and CTO of Bellatrix in an official statement.

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"Arka was validated upon successful ignition and functioning of the thruster and heaterless hollow cathode. Temperature, pressure, current and voltage levels from onboard sensors were validated for both Arka and Rudra reassuring payload performance in alignment to ground test results," he further said.

Ganapathy went on to add that the test "marks a significant milestone" for all the indigenously developed components.

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Apart from Arka and Rudra, Bellatrix has also developed the propulsion systems Fingernail meant for nanosatellites and Jal (a microwave plasma thruster). The company has also built an Orbital Transport Vehicle named Pushpak which "caters to a broad spectrum of satellites ranging from CubeSats to small satellites weighing up to 750kg." 

Earlier on January 3, Hyderabad-based Dhruva Space also announced the successful verification of its LEAP-TD mission comprising a satellite platform. Read more about it here
 

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Published January 5th, 2024 at 23:53 IST

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