Last month, I had the opportunity to visit India for the first time in preparation for our upcoming PSLV launch. One of the cubesatellite dispensers that one of our customers is integrated in will be flying for the first time on a PSLV mission. The purpose of this trip was to perform an integration test with ISRO and Antrix personnel to ensure that the launch vehicle avionics have been properly designed to integrate with this satellite dispenser.
After over 26 hours of travel, we arrived in Thrivandrum. The day of the test, we were escorted to the ISRO Liquid Propulsion Facility. Through small roads jam-packed with cars, scooters, tuk-tuks, bicycles, and pedestrians, we arrived for badging into the secure facility. Then the fun began! We met with personnel from the PSLV C43 engineering and leadership team to discuss the plan for the day’s testing. It’s was so valuable to be face to face for technical discussions, and we were able to more readily overcome timezone and language barriers. After the prep meetings, it was time for the main event – the integration test. After some initial checkouts to confirm the proper signal parameters and test setup, we were ready. Seemingly everyone on the facility gathered around as the countdown began, then “…3-2-1”, the deployment simulation was executed successfully followed by applause. You could really sense the pride and excitement that everyone had, and we all had ear-to-ear smiles. It was then time to celebrate with a lunch specially prepared for us, including a selection of Western and Indian delicacies. Of course the successful integration test was the highlight of the trip, there were other new experiences that I’ll never forget – like seeing wild monkeys “monkey-ing around” the base! And as we’d allowed for some buffer time in case we encountered technical issues, we had the opportunity to explore the Kerala region a bit, including a boat tour of the Poovar backwaters and Kovalam Beach and Lighthouse.
We’re looking forward to heading to SHAR – the launch base – in support of the C43 launch campaign scheduled for this week!