NATIONAL

IRNSS-1I to enrich navigation fleet

Blazing a trail:ISRO’s navigation satellite IRNSS-1I, on board the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C41), lifts off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday.PTIPTI  

Navigation satellite IRNSS-1I was flown into space from Sriharikota space pad in the early hours of Thursday. The 1,425-kg satellite will shortly become the eighth satellite to join the NavIC constellation of Indian regional navigation satellites.

The launch completes the first phase of the constellation, K.Sivan, Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation, said after a 19-minute flight put the satellite in a precise initial orbit. It was put to orbit on the PSLV-C41 rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh at 4.04 a.m.

NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation), dubbed India’s own GPS, has been designed to provide precise information on position, navigation and time related to objects or people. The eight satellites have a civilian and restricted military/security application to aid security and disaster management and fleet monitoring on land, air and sea.

Space stint

Built for a 10-year stint in space, the IRNSS-1I is expected to be ready for work in about a month’s time, after routine orbit manoeuvres and tests, ISRO officials said after the launch at 4.04 a.m.

“The NavIC constellation is going to create history and make innovative applications for the entire community of position-based services, especially the under- served and un-served,” Dr. Sivan said in a post-launch address. ISRO is developing many applications, and industry and institutions should take them to users.

ISRO teams returned to launch this mission in a record 14 days after the communication satellite GSAT-6A on March 29. However, IRNSS-1I was flown from the older, first launch pad.

ISRO launched the first seven navigation satellites — IRNSS-1A to 1G — between July 2013 and April 2016. Although 1I is the ninth to be built and launched for the NavIC fleet, the previous satellite, 1H, was lost in a faulty launch last August.

1I and 1H were planned as backups but became necessary after all three imported rubidium atomic clocks on 1A failed in orbit. All seven satellites are required for accurate, 24-hour information from the fleet.

Both 1I and 1H were fitted with corrected atomic clocks. ISRO involved a consortium of six Indian industries in their assembly, integration and testing at Bengaluru — an exercise that will be replicated in coming missions, Dr. Sivan said.

Once the IRNSS-1I was ejected from the rocket, its solar panels opened out automatically. At the same time, engineers at ISRO’s facility at Hassan in Karnataka took control of the satellite.