SATISH DHAVAN SPACE CENTRE, SRIHARIKOTTA
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]I[/dropcap]ndia is one satellite away from its own “everywhere, every time” satellite navigation system, according to the country’s top scientists. Thursday saw engineers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully putting into a pre-determined orbit the country’s sixth exclusive navigation satellite, part of the constellation of seven satellites which constitute Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), the country’s eyes up there in the space.
IRNSS becomes fully operational (by May 2016), people in the entire sub-continent will get satellite based navigation 24X7 round-the-year even under extreme weather conditions.
At the stroke of 4PM, a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, ISRO’s trusted and proven workhorse, lifted off the second launch pad of Satish Dhavan Space Centre (SDSC), India’s gateway to the space at Sriharikotta, with a thundering noise ejecting a plume of heavy orange flame. On board the 320 tonne spacecraft which had a height of 44.4 meter was the IRNSS-1F navigation satellite weighing 1425 Kg. The satellite has navigation and ranging payloads to transmit navigation service signals to the users. Exactly after 16 minutes of its lifting off, the four-stage launch vehicle deployed the IRNSS-1Fas per scripted by the country’s space scientists.
“Next month (April 2016), we will assemble here again for launching IRNSS-1G, the last of this constellation of seven satellites which would make the IRNSS fully operational,” said Kiran Kumar, chairman, ISRO, immediately after an indigenous Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C32) successfully deployed IRNSS-1F, the sixth navigation satellite in the constellation at an orbit with a 284 km perigee (nearest point to Earth) and 20,657 km apogee (farthest point to the Earth).
[dropcap color=”#008040″ boxed=”yes” boxed_radius=”8px” class=”” id=””]A[/dropcap] fleet of six navigation satellites has been launched by ISRO over a period of time commencing from July 2013 and all the satellites are in the best of health. M Annadurai, director, ISRO Satellite Centre, Bangalore, said the Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka has started receiving signals within minutes of the deploying the IRNSS-1F into the pre-destined orbit.
Once the IRNSS becomes fully operational (by May 2016), people in the entire sub-continent will get satellite based navigation 24X7 round-the-year even under extreme weather conditions. As on today, India is dependent on the Global Positioning System, owned and operated by the Air Force Space Command of the United States, for the country’s navigation needs. The advantage with IRNSS is that the country will never be at the mercy of the United States which has switched off the GPS service to India during critical periods like the Kargil war.
One of the space scientists told that IRNSS was an India specific navigation system. “It will be fully under our control,” he said. In addition to the entire country, an area of 1500 km around the subcontinent too would come under the watchful eyes of the seven satellites deployed in strategic orbits for getting non-stop sharp pictures of the region.
The mood in the Master Control Room at the SDSC was jovial and relaxed, a contrast to the tense ambience which one saw in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. The launching of PSLV missions has become a routine business for the engineers of ISRO.