India plans string of satellite launches

Sriharikota (Andhra Pradesh), July 2 (IANS) The Indian space agency has lined up a string of launches, including the silver jubilee flight of the 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,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here Tuesday, adding that after ejection, the orbiter will begin its Mars voyage around November 28 or 29.

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, Radhakrishnan said an advanced meteorological satellite – INSAT-3D – will be sent aloft on an Ariane 5 rocket later this month.

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

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

Radhakrishnan said another PSLV rocket is planned to carry the SPOT-7 foreign satellite 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 space and two satellites as reserves. The project cost is around Rs.1,450 crore – Rs.350 crore for the ground systems and the balance for the 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 boundaries.

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) and 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 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 use in two years.

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.

(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at [email protected])

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