A fruitful year for ISRO

SUCCESSFUL LAUNCHISRO's PSLV C36 lifts off from Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota.PHOTO: PTIPTI  

The year 2016 was a bag of mixed fortunes for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) with successes on the technological front and setbacks on the legal front.

On the technological side, apart from simultaneously launching 20 satellites, the year also saw ISRO activating its own NavIC satellite navigation system, and testing a reusable launch vehicle (RLV) and a scramjet engine.

The year saw ISRO putting into orbit 34 satellites — 33 satellites with Indian rockets and one (GSAT-18) by French company Arianespace.

The ISRO also put one more rocket — the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark II (GSLV-Mk II) with 2-2.5 tonne capacity to geo-transfer orbit in the global market. The space agency also commercially used its own multiple-burn technology in its other rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).

India’s eyes in the skies — a family of remote sensing or earth observation satellites — is said to have given the necessary images to the Indian Army to carry out its surgical strikes on terror camps across the Line of Control (LOC) in September.

On the negative side, ISRO and its commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, suffered a legal setback. India lost the arbitration case in an international tribunal for cancelling its space/satellite contract with Antrix Corporation.

The first quarter of the year saw ISRO launching three navigation satellites and completing the constellation of seven satellites for the NavIC system, designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1,500 km around the Indian mainland.

In May, ISRO took the first step in developing a RLV by successfully testing an aircraft-like winged structure. The structure, which sat atop a rocket, was released into space 70km above the earth and it returned and landed in the Bay of Bengal as planned.

The year also saw ISRO successfully testing a scramjet, or air breathing engine. It is a baby step in space transportation and would take more than a decade to develop such an engine to power a full-fledged rocket.

In June, ISRO put into orbit India’s Cartosat earth observation satellite and 19 other satellites, including one belonging to the Terra Bella Google company.

The Indian space agency also launched INSAT-3DR, an advanced weather satellite, using its heavy GSLV Mk II rocket and in the process put into the market one more rocket for launch services.

India also launched a SCATSAT-1 weather satellite and seven others — five foreign and two domestic — with its PSLV rocket.

The Indian space agency rounded off its satellite launches in 2016 by putting into orbit its Resourcesat-2A remote sensing satellite.

The space agency also signed a launch contract with the Bengaluru-based TeamIndus to land a spacecraft on the Moon.IANS

The year saw ISRO putting into orbit 34 satellites — 33 satellites with Indian rockets and one (GSAT-18) by French company Arianespace.