ISRO recoups for key 2018 missions

Photo for representational purpose.

Photo for representational purpose.  

Three or four big missions planned in first half of year

National space agency ISRO expects to regain in the new year some of the ground and pace it lost in 2017 owing to a damp-squib launch mission of August.

Starting January, the line-up for the first half of 2018 is highlighted by at least three or four significant missions. Among the prospective launches are a lunar lander cum rover mission, the Chandrayaan-2; the second GSLV-MkIII heavy-lift launch carrying the advanced communications satellite GSAT-20; and the third purported military communications spacecraft, GSAT-6A, in February.

Then there is the private commercial Moon rover mission that Bengaluru startup TeamIndus plans to send by March on a PSLV; the company is a finalist in a Google XPrize lunar contest.

The ISRO had paused all its space flights after the August failure. In that episode, the replacement navigation satellite IRNSS-1H had failed to release itself into space from its launch vehicle. Satellite launch activities would be resumed around mid-January, ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar had recently said.

A PSLV rocket will get ISRO off the mark for the year. Its main passenger will be the seventh Cartosat-2 series Earth observation satellite; 30 small piggy-back satellites will fly with it, 28 of them belonging to foreign customers. This rocket, the PSLV-C40, is said to include suitable corrections to its top nose cone on the basis of analyses of what went wrong in the August mishap.

Momentous start

Until the navigation spacecraft was lost, the year 2017 was a good trot for ISRO; in fact it started off with a world record-making launch of 104 spacecraft on a single PSLV in February.

Between January and December 2017, ISRO completes nine main missions, which include five spacecraft and four launches. In comparison it did 15 main missions including eight spacecraft and seven launches during 2016.

The consolation of 2017 was the first full flight of a priority heavy-lift launch vehicle, the GSLV-Mark III: in the next couple of years, this vehicle should release ISRO from buying costly rides on foreign launchers for putting 3- and 4-tonne communications spacecraft in orbit.

In February, PSLV-C37 made space history by placing 104 spacecraft - including the main Cartosat-2D - in orbits. This light-lift ISRO rocket now holds the record for launching the highest number of satellites (although small ones.) This feat has also raised the commercial image of the rocket in its category in the global launch market. The earlier record was made by a Russian Dnepr rocket that took up 37 satellites to space in 2014.

Although no PSLV or the bigger GSLV was launched post-August, an ISRO spokesman said even otherwise, they had left the period blank between August and December.

For the fiscal year April 2017 to March 2018, ISRO has 15 missions on its agenda, including eight main launchers and seven satellites.

Space programmes everywhere have fluid schedules. Yet, the August setback — ISRO’s first failure since December 2010 — may go on to cram the rest of the fiscal year and even push some over to 2018-19.

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Printable version | May 27, 2020 7:08:56 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/isro-recoups-for-key-2018-missions/article22321059.ece

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