India plans series of satellite launches by March 2014

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), July 2 (IANS) The Indian space agency has lined up a series of launches for this fiscal, including the silver jubilee flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C25 (PSLV-C25) carrying the Mars orbiter, a top official said.

“The Mars mission will be anytime after October 21 this year. As per plans after the ejecting the orbiter, it will start its Mars voyage around November 28 or 29,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here Tuesday.

He expressed his happiness at the successful launch of India’s first navigation satellite – Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-1A (IRNSS-1A) – Monday night.

Speaking about the other launches planned by the space agency this fiscal, Radhakrishnan said an advanced meteorological satellite – INSAT-3D – will be launched through the Ariane 5 rocket later this month.

He said communication satellite GSat-14 will be launched through ISRO’s heavy rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Aug 6 from here.

Another communication satellite Gsat-7 will be launched by Ariane rocket this year and the satellite will be shipped to French Guiana spaceport.

Radhakrishnan said another PSLV rocket is planned to carry a foreign satellite SPOT-7 sometime during December this year.

“In January 2014, GSLV Mark III experimental mission is slated. And there is also the launch of India’s second navigation satellite IRNSS-1D in March 2014,” Radhakrishnan said.

Asked about the revenue potential of the navigation satellite system that will come into play by 2015, Radhakrishnan said: “There is a large group of users for navigation systems. Several new services will also develop.”

He said the navigation satellite service can be started with four satellites in place.

The IRNSS is a constellation of seven satellites in the space and two satellites as spares. The total project cost is around Rs.1,450 crore (Rs.350 crore for ground systems and the balance for nine satellites).

It is a regional navigational system developed by India designed to provide accurate position information service to users within the country and up to 1,500 km from the nation’s boundary line.

While ISRO is silent on the navigation system’s strategic application, it is clear that IRNSS will be used for defence purposes as well.

The system is similar to the global positioning system (GPS) of the US (24 satellites), Glonass of Russia (24 satellites), Galileo of Europe (27 satellites), China’s Beidou (35 satellites) or the Japanese Quasi Zenith Satellite System with three satellites.

According to A.S.Kiran Kumar, director of Space Applications Centre, talks are on with industries for the signal receivers for the navigation systems.

Radhakrishnan said the government has given its sanction for building two more communication satellites Gsat-15 (with 24 Ku band transponders) and Gsat-16 (with 48 transponders in Ku, C and extended C bands) at an total outlay of around Rs.1,725 crore.

He said the satellites will augment ISRO’s transponder capacity currently at 95 as three INSAT satellites will go out of usage in two years time.

According to Radhakrishnan, the space agency is in consultation with the industries to augment their capacity to meet its increased needs of satellites and rockets.

“We are mulling a consortium approach. There is also lot of modularity built in the satellites to speed up its production,” he added.

Queried about the second moon mission, Radhakrishnan said there is uncertainty relating to the lander to be provided by Russia for the mission.

“We need to get information from Russia on the lander part,” he said.

Radhakrishnan added that technologies have to be developed for human space mission and ISRO is working on them.

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