India is expected to have its own satellite-based regional navigation system in place by next March, providing accurate position information service for terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking, fleet management and visual and voice navigation for drivers.
A.S. Kiran Kumar, Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said here on Thursday that the constellation of seven satellites comprising the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) would be in orbit by March. The last three of the satellites were scheduled to be launched in January, February and March, he told the media on the sidelines of a function organised by the High Energy Materials Society of India.
Launched by PSLV rockets, the first four satellites of the constellation are already in orbit. ISRO has also established a satellite navigation centre at Byalalu in Karnataka. A network of ranging stations located across the country will provide data for the orbital determination of the satellites and monitoring of the navigation signal.
Mr. Kumar said the first experimental flight of the indigenously developed fully Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) would take place towards the beginning of 2016. The RLV-TD (Technology Demonstrator) was undergoing tests at VSSC from where it would be moved to Bengaluru and later to Srikarikotta for the launch. RLV has been conceived by ISRO as a space plane that will bring down the cost of satellite launch substantially.
In the first test flight, RLV-TD, weighing around 1.5 tonnes, would be launched to an altitude of 70 km atop a solid booster rocket and released. Re-entering the atmosphere, the thermally insulated vehicle will travel back to earth in a controlled descent, to be recovered from the sea. ISRO has plans to construct a 4-km runway at SHAR for the RLV to make a horizontal landing in the subsequent flights.
Mr. Kumar said preparations were underway for the first developmental flight of the GSLV Mark 3 scheduled to take place by December 2016.
The biggest rocket made in India, the Mk3 will be capable of launching four-tonne satellites into geosynchronous orbit. He said efforts were on to achieve the target of two launches per year, using the Mk2 configuration of GSLV that is currently capable of placing satellites up to 2.2 tonnes in orbit.
Mr. Kumar added that Chandrayaan 2, India’s second lunar exploration mission, was expected to be launched by 2018. The project involves the indigenous development of a lunar orbiter, lander and rover.
First four satellites are already in orbit
Chandrayaan 2 likely by 2018: ISRO Chairman
Last three satellites of constellation to be launched next year