Narayanasami Highlights India’s Achievements in Space Technology

India’s Space programme is poised for growth in the coming years to take forward the space saga and serve the nation with several challenging tasks ahead. Also, Space has been the new frontier of 21st Century. India has made remarkable progress in Space Technology and Planetary Exploration in the last decade and took major strides in utilizing the operational space systems in various fronts of national development – commercial, strategic, societal and economic. This was stated by Shri V.Narayanasami, Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office here in New Delhi on 10th January 2014. Addressing Media persons the minister said in our future plans the major focus will be on the development of next generation launch vehicle GSLV Mk III, which currently is in advanced stage. He detailed the outlook of Department of Space till 2020 and said GSLV Mk III will provide the capability to launch 4 T class communication satellite into orbit. Research and Development on critical technologies related to Semi-cryogenic engine, Re-usable Launch Vehicles, Air breathing Propulsion and Human Space Flight will pave the way for realisation of advanced launch vehicles.

Shri Narayanasami further said that Satellite Navigation is an emerging area of Space Applications. 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. The Satellite Communication services in the country are planned to be expanded with more powerful INSAT/GSAT satellites operating in new frequency bands.

The Minister said 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 . He said, Space technology is a powerful catalyst for social development in the areas of natural resources management, food security, rural development, education and literacy, health-care and environment. Innovations in space based communications and earth observations will be pursued to achieve faster delivery of information to remote areas and finer observation of planet earth, he added.

Shri Narayanasami said 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.

He expressed the hope that with the above plan of action, the Space Programme in the country will rise to greater heights and meaningfully contribute to the cause of nation building.

Earlier the Minister gave a detailed account of the achievements made by department of Space in the last decade which are as follows:

Indian Cryogenic Engine & Stage and GSLV – D5 

The successful flight testing of indigenous cryogenic stage onboard GSLV-D5 Flight on January 5, 2014 was a major land mark technological milestone in achieving self-reliance in India’s Cryogenic Launch Vehicle technology. 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. This success, coming after two consecutive failures of previous flights of GSLV-D3 and GSLV- F06 in 2010, has demonstrated the ability of the organization to cope-up with set backs, implement objectively the corrective actions with determination and accomplish the goal.

GSLV-D5 has successfully put a communication satellite GSAT-14 into a precise GTO orbit. The health of the satellite is normal.

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 spacecraft has been realized on fast track mode in a record time of less than 18 months to meet the earliest launch opportunity (the next opportunity would have been only after 26 months). 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. Besides the scientific and technological challenges, Mars Orbiter Mission is a vital step in enthusing the younger generation in the country in scientific research in general and planetary exploration in particular. The injection of the spacecraft in to Mars Orbit would take place on September 24, 2014.

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. PSLVs launch capability has been progressively enhanced with ability to place multiple satellites into varied orbits. A noteworthy achievement of PSLV is the successful launch of TEN satellites into multiple orbits during PSLV C9 flight in 2008 demonstrating the versatility of the vehicle.

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. SRE-1, demonstrated several advanced technologies such as thermal protection system, deceleration and recovery system, etc.; of relevance for future Human Space Flights.

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.

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. IRS Satellites provide data of varied spatial resolutions and improved repetivity to suit many spectra of applications.

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, equipped with an advanced Microwave Synthetic Aperture Radar in C band. 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. The Scatterometer on Oceansat-2 satellite launched in September 2009 is the only operational instrument providing data not only for India, but also for the global agencies like NASA and NOAA (National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration) of US. 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. The fact that data from IRS satellites is also received and marketed through international ground stations across the world is a testimony for the quality products generated by IRS.

INSAT System 

INSAT system has grown as one of the largest domestic communications satellite constellations in the Asian region, providing services of telecommunication, television broadcasting, meteorology and disaster management to a cross section of users in the country including strategic sector. In the last decade, INSAT system has been augmented with the launch of 12 INSAT/GSAT communication satellites providing together 232 transponder capacity covering C, Ext-C, Ku and S bands for meeting national demands for communication transponders. 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 and about 25 States were covered by the footprint of EDUSAT with more than 55,000 EDUSAT class rooms. 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.

Satellite Navigation 

A vital space technology initiative of the last decade has been the Satellite based Navigation System. 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. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has provisionally certified the GAGAN system, so as to enable the aircraft fitted with SBAS equipment to use GAGAN signal in space for En-Route Navigation and Non-Precision Approaches over Indian air space.

Space Commerce/Antrix 

India’s Space capability is being marketed globally by Antrix Corporation Limited. 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. An important achievement of the last decade is realising two high power communication satellites, viz. W2M and HYLAS for European customers – contracts bagged by Antrix against tough competition. Additionally, the data from Indian Remote sensing satellites are commercially disseminated to users globally. Antrix leases transponders of the INSAT system for commercial purpose.

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. During the last decade India has signed 10 new co-operative instruments with various countries and space agencies.

Present on this occasion were the Secretary Department of State and Chairman Indian Space Reseach Organisation Dr. K.Radhakrishnan and Scientific Secretary Dr. V.Koteswara Rao who also detailed the roadmap of Deptt. of Space.