India to launch Brazilian Earth-observing satellite (and 18 more) tonight. Watch it live!

Update for 12:25 a.m. EST, Feb. 28: The India Space Research Organisation has successfully launched the Amazonias-1 Earth observation satellite for Brazil. Read our wrap story here.

India will send a Brazilian Earth-observation satellite to space along with 18 additional satellites — and you can watch the launch live.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the satellite, called Amazonia-1, on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle that will lift off from the country's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. 

ISRO will broadcast the launch live website starting at 11:20 p.m. EST Saturday, Feb. 27 (0420 GMT or 9:50 a.m. local time at the launch site on Sunday, Feb. 28). The launch is scheduled for 11:54 p.m. EST Saturday (0454 GMT or 10:24 a.m. local time Sunday). You can watch the launch live here or directly on, courtesy of ISRO. You can also watch it directly from ISRO here and via YouTube.

Crowds will not be allowed at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, ISRO noted in a separate press release; there will be no media personnel or launch viewing available due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. India didn't launch a mission last year until November because of the pandemic's impact.

In photos: India launches the RISAT-2B Earth-imaging satellite

The mission's lead satellite is Brazil's Amazonia 1, which will operate in a sun-synchronous polar orbit so the instruments will fly over consistent lighting conditions. The satellite will be able to view any part of Earth within five days and can observe in both visual and infrared bands, with resolution of about 200 feet (60 meters).

Infrared imaging allows spacecraft to peer through clouds, which will be "extremely valuable in applications such as [monitoring] deforestation in the Amazon," Brazil's National Institute for Space Research (INPE) said in an Amazonia 1 mission description. "It increases the probability of capturing useful images in the face of cloud cover in the region," the institute added.

Amazonia-1 and 18 satellite companions will launch on the popular Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle "DL" rocket variant, which uses two solid strap-on boosters, ISRO said in a description of the mission. The smaller "co-passengers" are from India and the United States. 

The Indian satellites include Satish Dhawan SAT (which will study radiation, space weather and communications), the UNITYsat trio for radio relay and a technology demonstrator satellite called SindhuNetra, about which ISRO has not provided details. 

The American satellites include another technology demonstrator called SAI-1 NanoConnect-2, as well as 12 "SpaceBees" from Swarm Technologies, part of a larger constellation that will use two-way satellite communications and data relay for the Internet of Things. Swarm paid a $900,000 fine to the Federal Aviation Administration in 2018 following an unauthorized launch of SpaceBees, but the company has sent more satellites into space since without issue.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: