ISRO eyes a global role in satellite navigation

The Indian Space Research Organisation has unveiled plans to gradually make its regional satellite navigation system global — akin to powerful position-telling systems such as the U.S.’ GPS and the Russian GLONASS.

ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar said four of the seven Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) satellites are in orbit and the last three spacecraft would be added in orbit by March 2016. The IRNSS would provide self-reliance in the strategically important area of position-related information, he said at a users’ conference on global navigation satellite systems on Thursday.

The focus now was on completing the regional constellation and extending it to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation countries. “After that we will look at taking it gradually over the entire globe, may be in less than a decade. It could be done by adding a set of regional satellites over adjoining countries. We are working towards this with other countries – [South] Korea and the Gulf nations, to name a few,” Mr. Kiran Kumar said.

The signals from the regional system were already available 1,500 km beyond the borders.

In April this year, ISRO and the Airports Authority of India also completed GAGAN, focussed on airlines, airports and the civil aviation sector but applicable to land and sea-based services. GAGAN enhances the GPS-derived details of location and time of objects or persons.

Both IRNSS and GAGAN, he said, would drive an unlimited set of personal, public and industrial users, from transportation, railways, forestry, farming, agriculture and security. Around 200 navigation receiver sets built by industry and using ISRO design would be out soon.

Four of the seven IRNSS satellites

are in orbit