The first of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS-1A) has been successfully launched in July 2013. The years ahead with witness the completion of the IRNSS constellation with seven satellites leading to the introduction of satellite-based positioning and timing services in the country.
New capabilities in Earth Observations are planned with the development of Geo imaging Satellite (GISAT) to provide near real time images of large areas of the country and hyper spectral imaging systems for natural resources survey and disaster management applications.
Several exciting missions in Space Science and Planetary Exploration have been planned in the near future including Chandrayaan-2, with a lander and a rover intended for in-situ investigations of the Lunar Surface; multi-wavelength Astronomy observatory satellite ASTROSAT-1 for observation of celestial objects covering optical, UV and X-ray bands and India’s first space- borne solar coronagraph mission ADITYA-1 for studies on coronal mass ejections.
1. Space Capsule Recovery
A leap-frog in Indian Launch Vehicle Technology was achieved in 2007 through the Space Capsule Recovery Experiment Mission SRE-1 which established India’s technological capability to recover an orbiting satellite with precise re-entry trajectories.
2. Mars Orbiter Mission
India’s first inter planetary mission, the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft was successfully launched on November 5, 2013 onboard PSLV-C25. The voyage of the spacecraft towards Mars, following crucial orbital maneuver of Trans-Mars Injection on December 01, 2013, made India to become one of the four nations in the world to send space mission to Planet Mars. Mars Orbiter Mission is mainly intended to establish the Indian technological capability to reach Martian orbit and to explore Mars surface features, morphology, mineralogy and Martian atmosphere by indigenous scientific instruments.
3. PSLV – A Workhorse Launch Vehicle
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), with a proven track record of 24 successful flights, has provided the country the crucial autonomy in ‘access to space’. During the last decade, PSLV had 15 successively successful flights and has placed 23 Indian satellites and 31 foreign satellites into orbit. The versatile vehicle PSLV has been successfully used for launching lighter communication and navigation satellites into GTO, apart from launching remote sensing satellites to Low Earth Orbit and Interplanetary missions. PSLV, to its credit, has the successful launch of India’s first Inter-planetary Mission to Mars in November 2013 as well India’s first Lunar Mission Chandrayaan-1 earlier in September 2008.
4. India’s Mission to Moon.
India’s maiden moon exploration mission ‘Chandrayaan-1’ was launched in October 2008 for mapping the lunar surface with high resolution remote sensing and study the chemical and mineralogical composition. This mission has enabled to detect the presence of Hydroxyl (OH), a molecule consisting of oxygen and hydrogen atoms and water molecules on the lunar surface, which has set new directions of lunar explorations in the global community.
5. Indian Cryogenic Engine & Stage and GSLV - D5
The successful flight testing of indigenous cryogenic stage onboard GSLV-D5 Flight on January 5, 2014. Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) is capable of placing 2 Tonne class communication satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) and India is one among six countries in the world to demonstrate such launch capability to GTO with the use of complex cryogenic technology.
6. Remote Sensing and National Natural Resource Management System
The Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) System, with currently 11 satellites in orbit, is one of the largest constellations of remote sensing satellites in operation in the world today. It provides inputs for management of natural resources and various developmental projects across the country using space based imagery.
During the last decade, 13 remote sensing satellites have been launched and operationalized. The imaging technology of the country witnessed a quantum jump with the successful launch of Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) in 2012. RISAT-1 gave the all-weather day and night imaging capability for the country, crucial for applications in Agriculture and Disaster Management. The advanced cartography satellite, Cartosat-2 launched in 2007, enhanced the imaging capability to sub-meter high resolution in tune with the global trend and provided immense services for cartographic applications. To study the climate of tropical regions, a joint Indo-France satellite Megha- Tropiques was launched in October 2011. With the launch of advanced meteorological satellite INSAT-3D in July 2013, an atmospheric sounder payload has been placed over the Indian Ocean for the first time which enabled detailed climatic studies over this region. Data from IRS satellites are used for meeting varieties of societal needs – locating sources of drinking water in remote areas, potential fishing zone advisories, environmental monitoring, agricultural crop forecasting, disaster management – to name a few.
7. International Co-operation
India’s maiden mission to moon Chandrayaan-1 carried six scientific instruments from USA and Europe. Two satellite missions viz. (Megha- Tropiques and SARAL (Satellite with ARgos and ALtica) were realized through India-France Co-operation. YOUTHSAT, a satellite for space weather studies has been realized by young scientists of India and Russia. India has co-operation with Jet Propulsion Laboratory of USA for ground stations support for Mars Orbiter Mission and India and USA together are planning to develop a dual band Radar Imaging Satellite to be launched by 2019-2020.
8. INSAT System
INSAT system has grown as one of the largest domestic communications satellite constellations in the Asian region. In the last decade, INSAT system has been augmented with the launch of 12 INSAT/GSAT communication satellites. A vital application of INSAT system in the last decade has been in the field of education with the launch of thematic satellite EDUSAT in 2004. EDUSAT was specially designed to spread education (formal and informal) at all levels and regions of the country. INSAT system was also instrumental in taking the benefits of space technology to the doorsteps of common man through the initiatives of Tele-medicine and Village Resource Centres in the country.
9. Satellite Navigation
India is pursuing satellite navigation programme to provide position and navigation information for various applications. Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is being developed to provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from its boundary. The first satellite of this 7-satellite constellation, IRNSS 1A was successfully launched in July 2013. In addition ISRO and Airports Authority of India have jointly taken up GPS Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) programme, as a forerunner for the operational Satellite based Augmentation System (SBAS) over the Indian Airspace. GAGAN payloads are already incorporated in GSAT 8 and GSAT 10 satellites.
10. Space Commerce/Antrix
As the commercial and marketing arm of ISRO, Antrix is engaged in providing Space products and services to international customers worldwide. By using the launch services of ISRO’s workhorse launch vehicle, PSLV, 31 satellites belonging to 17 countries have been launched on commercial terms during the last 10 years. Additionally, the data from Indian Remote sensing satellites are commercially disseminated to users globally.
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