Mars Orbiter Mission launch slated for October

The coming year’s Rs.5,615-crore outlay for the Department of Space has no new or big-ticket projects even as it levels the allocation exactly with what was earmarked originally for 2012-13.

The prestigious Mars Orbiter Mission — floated some two years back and slated for October this year — looks the fanciest, while the launch vehicles continue to get their proud slice of the pie.

This year, apart from the Mars project estimated at Rs.450 crore, the space agency wants to push its first navigational satellite (NSS), the dedicated GSAT-7 spacecraft (costing Rs. 462 crore with launcher) for the Navy; and the four-tonne advanced communications satellite ACTS or GSAT-11, a senior Indian Space Research Organisation official told The Hindu.

The ACTS will be the heaviest satellite to be built to date by ISRO.

The advanced Geo-Imaging Satellite GISAT to be put in the medium Earth orbit is on the to-do list.

The completion of the GSLV rocket with its indigenous cryogenic engine and GSLV Mark-III — its big brother version for lifting 4-tonne satellites — remain priorities, the official said. Mk-III is slated for the first trial in the second half of this year without the cryo-stage.

These two, along with the semi-cryogenic programme, get about Rs. 420 crore.

Non-Plan provision

Last year’s outlay is now revised to Rs.5,615 crore from Rs.3,880 crore.

This year, DoS gets a non-Plan provision of Rs.1,177 crore.

An upgraded PSLV rocket will lift the 1,300-kg Mars spacecraft to the longest space haul that India has ever travelled — after the 4-lakh-km Chandrayaan-1 mission of 2008.

An outlay of Rs.167.5 crore has been set apart for the Mars mission in the budget.

In the absence of the GSLV to lift communications satellites above 2,000 kg, three procured or foreign launches have been factored in for the ACTS, GSAT 15 and 16.

Chandrayaan-2 and the human flight plan, which get relatively small outlays, have been put on the backburner for now, the official said.