India on Saturday demonstrated its ability to establish an independent regional navigation satellite system, as ISRO’s PSLV C-27 successfully launched Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) 1-D satellite into the intended orbit.
“We will now be able to make use of our receivers to locate ourselves independently,” ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said. This is the first launch this year and the first under his chairmanship.
While the ambit of the U.S. GPS was global, the IRNSS was meant for regional coverage, he said, replying to a query. “The globe comes later, the country comes first.”
IRNSS 1-D is the fourth of the series of seven satellites, which would form ISRO’s IRNSS.
Busy launch season ahead for ISRO
The launch IRNSS 1-D, which was earlier scheduled for March 9, was postponed following an anomaly in the telemetry systems. While four of the seven satellites in the IRNSS will be in geosynchronous orbit, the other three would be positioned in geo-stationary orbit, some 36,000 km above the Earth.
The national space agency has lined up many launches before March next year. A PSLV to launch a commercial satellite from the UK, two navigation satellites, a GSAT series satellite and three satellites in IRNSS series are among the planned launches. A reusable launch vehicle would also be tested this year as a technology demonstrator. “The tests on the reusable launch vehicle would be complete and in three months, ISRO would be able to launch it,” ISRO chairman K.S. Kiran Kumar said.
ISRO has also installed a Multi-Object Tracking Radar at a cost of Rs. 245 crore for which the trials would be conducted soon. The radar is capable of tracking 10 objects in real time simultaneously. Replying to another query, Mr. Kumar said the Mars Orbiter has been sending data from the red planet but said ascertaining whether methane was present there would take some time as the data had to be studied thoroughly. The configuration for a satellite for the use of SAARC countries as mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, was being finalised and would be launched in 18 months, the ISRO chairman said. “We are in the process of discussing with other countries to finalise the configuration of the SAARC satellite.”
Replying to a query, he said Cartosat satellites would be used to monitor illegal mining in the country. “The Indian Bureau of Mines has been given the task to draw the boundary lines for the mines,” V.K. Dadhwal, Director of National Remote Sensing Centre said.
Attempting to reduce the mass of the satellites, ISRO was looking at the possibility of having an ion propulsion system, K. Sivan Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre in Valiamala in Kerala, said. “We are planning to test the proposed technology in a communication satellite,” he said. As for the semi-cryogenic engine, which LPSC is working on, he said the engine was tested for 20 seconds and the time duration would be extended in future.