ISRO's POEM-3 Mission: Advancing Responsible Space Exploration

The PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3) meets its fiery end through re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere
ISRO's POEM-3 Mission: Advancing Responsible Space Exploration [Source: ANI]

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has achieved a significant milestone through the successful re-entry of the PSLV Orbital Experimental Module-3 (POEM-3) into the Earth’s atmosphere, ensuring the absence of debris in orbit. Conducted under the PSLV-C58/XPoSat mission on January 1, 2024, this endeavor underscores ISRO’s dedication to responsible space operations and debris mitigation.

Mission Objectives and Payloads

POEM-3 carried nine experimental payloads aimed at technology demonstrations and scientific experiments on newly developed indigenous systems. Notably, six of these payloads were provided by Non-Government Entities (NGEs) through IN-SPACe, successfully meeting mission objectives within a month of launch.

Deorbiting and Re-entry Process

Post-satellite deployment, the final stage of PSLV transformed into the POEM-3 platform, a 3-axis stabilized structure. It was then deorbited from 650 km to 350 km altitude, streamlining the re-entry process. Precautionary measures, such as propellant removal, were implemented to minimize risks associated with accidental break-ups.

Impact Location and Tracking

Natural forces, primarily atmospheric drag, facilitated the gradual decay of POEM-3’s orbital altitude. The mission's impact was projected in the North Pacific Ocean on March 21, 2024, with continuous tracking conducted by ISTRAC ground stations and the MOTR at Shriharikota.

Opportunities for Academia, Startups, and NGEs

Through the POEM platform, ISRO has provided a cost-effective avenue for academia, startups, and NGEs to conduct short-duration space-borne experiments. Various organizations have utilized this opportunity for experiments ranging from electric thrusters to star-tracking, fostering innovation in space research.

Responsible Space Operations

Recognizing the risks posed by space debris, ISRO is committed to advancing debris tracking systems, developing deorbiting technologies, and promoting responsible satellite deployment practices. This approach ensures the safety and sustainability of space operations amidst the proliferation of small satellite constellations.

Key Exam Facts

  • The Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) spearheaded the conceptualization and realization of POEM.
  • PSLV-C58/XPoSat marks the third successful mission in the POEM series.
  • Effective payload operations were conducted by the spacecraft operations team from the mission operations complex (MOX) at ISTRAC.
  • ISRO’s System for Safe and Sustainable Spacecraft Operations Management (IS4OM) monitored and analyzed orbital decay throughout the mission.
  • Support for POEM-3 extended to other ISRO centers, including URSC, LPSC, and IISU.

This comprehensive summary encapsulates the achievements and endeavors of ISRO's POEM-3 mission, showcasing India’s strides in responsible space exploration and technology innovation.

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