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  Features

INDIA’S Department of Space (DOS), during the year (2010-11), continued to pursue research and development activities of critical technologies in the area of launch vehicles and satellites towards achieving total self-reliance in all branches of space science and technology. The major highlights of the year were the successful launch of CARTOSAT-2B onboard PSLV-C15 on July 12, 2010, static test of the liquid core stage (L-110) of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk III) for the full flight duration of 200 seconds at Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facilities at Mahendragiri on September 8, 2010 and the launch of Highly Adaptable Satellite (HYLAS) developed by ISRO/Antrix under a commercial agreement with EADS/Astrium for M/s Avanti Communications Ltd., U.K. onboard Ariane launch vehicle on November 27, 2010.

This year, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C18) successfully launched the Indo-French MEGHA-TROPIQUES Satellite in October. In the same year, GSAT-12 communication satellite was also launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

pslvThe flight-testing of GSLV-D3 using indigenous cryogenic engine and carrying GSAT-4 satellite on April 15, 2010 and launch of GSLV-F06 with GSAT-5P satellite conducted on December 25, 2010 could not achieve the mission objectives.

The two major operational space systems, namely, the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) for telecommunication, television broadcasting and meteorological services and the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite for resources monitoring and management together with the two operational launch vehicles, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) primarily for launching remote sensing satellites into polar orbits and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for launching communication and meteorological satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), have continued to provide services to the nation.

 

LAUNCH VEHICLE PROGRAMME

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C18) successfully launched the Indo-French MEGHA-TROPIQUES Satellite on October 12, 2011. This has been the nineteenth successive successful flight of PSLV.

Three co-passenger Satellites (a) JUGNU from IIT, Kanpur (b) SRMSat from SRM University, Chennai and (c) VesselSat-1 from Luxembourg were also launched by PSLV-C18. The user institutions also have confirmed establishing contact with the satellites.

MEGHA-TROPIQUES Satellite, a joint endeavour of ISRO and the French National Space Agency (CNES), is intended to study the water cycle and energy exchanges in the tropical region covering 20 deg on either side of the Equator.

MEGHA-TROPIQUES Satellite has been put in its final orbital configuration in 3-axis stabilised mode with respect to Sun and Earth.

Data from these instruments is expected to enhance scientific knowledge in the field of climate research through study of water cycle and energy exchanges in the tropical region. Other than the scientific community of India and France, there are already 21 scientific teams from Australia, Brazil, Italy, Japan, Korea, Niger, Sweden, UK and USA awaiting data from MEGHA-TROPIQUES.

It is pertinent to note that MEGHA-TROPIQUES is only the second mission of this kind globally, next to the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) launched in 1997 by USA and Japan. USA and Japan are presently coordinating for establishing a Global Precipitation Measurement Mission with 8-Satellite Constellation.

MEGHA-TROPIQUES Satellite could be a joint contribution from India and France to the global scientific community engaged in research on climate and weather systems that affect the daily life of humankind world over and particularly in the tropical region.

The PSLV-C17 successfully launched GSAT-12 communication satellite on July 15, 2011 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC)’s ground station at Biak, Indonesia acquired the signals from GSAT-12 immediately after the injection of the satellite. The solar panels of the satellite were deployed automatically.

The launch of PSLV-C15 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR on July 12, 2010 carrying India‘s remote sensing satellite (CARTOSAT-2B) and STUDSAT (built by students from Karnataka and Andhra pradesh), two nano satellites for international customers and ALSAT-2A from Algeria was the major accomplishment. Considering the mission requirements, PSLV-C15 was launched in a configuration without strap-on motors, which once again proved the reliability and versatility of PSLV.

The GSAT-12 Communication Satellite, launched onboard Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C17), was successfully placed in Geosynchronous Orbit with a perigee of 35,684 km, apogee of 35,715 km and an orbital inclination of 0.17 degree with respect to the equatorial plane.

Significant progress was made in the development of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mark III which is currently under advanced stage of development for launching 4 ton class of communication satellites.

The longest annular solar eclipse of this millennium occurred on January 15, 2010. On this unique occasion, a total of eleven Rohini series of indigenous Sounding Rockets were successfully launched from TERLS, Thumba and SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota, to investigate the effects of the solar eclipse on the Earth’s atmosphere. Interpretation of eclipse data together with space data is expected to give new insights into the earliereclipse observations. This was the first ISRO effort to realise sounding rocket systems for a record 11 flights during a short period of two days from TERLS and SDSC.

Flight Testing of Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV D-O1), the new generation high performance sounding rocket, was conducted on March 3, 2010 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), SHAR. The successful flight testing of ATV D-O1 is a step ahead towards the advanced technology initiative taken up by ISRO in the area of Air-Breathing Propulsion.

Research and development activities in semi-cryogenic propulsion stages and re-usable launch vehicle technology are also being pursued vigourously in an effort towards reducing the cost of access to space.

 

SATELLITE PROGRAMME

The CARTOSAT-2B satellite, launched by PSLV-C15 on July 12, 2010, into a polar sun synchronous orbit, is working satisfactorily. The Satellite is providing high quality images of better than 1 metre spatial resolution on an operational basis.

The Highly Adaptable Satellite (HYLAS), developed by ISRO/Antrix under a commercial agreement with EADS Astrium of France for M/s. Avanti Communications Ltd., UK, was successfully launched onboard Ariane- 5 launch vehicle on November 27, 2010. ISRO/ Antrix was also responsible for carrying out post launch operations.

The flight models of Synthetic Aperture Radar in C-band for the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1) as well as a Microwave Imaging Radiometer for Megha-Tropiques satellite have been realised. Communication satellites GSAT-7, GSAT-8, GSAT-10, INSAT-3D and GSAT-14 scheduled for launch during 2011-12, are under various stages of development. Approvals for Geo-Imaging satellite and INSAT-3DR have been obtained and the preliminary configuration studies are underway.

During the year, OCEANSAT-1, INSAT-3B, and GSAT-3 (EDUSAT) satellites were decommissioned from operational service after completion of their mission life. Also, INSAT-4B (launched in March 2007) suffered a partial loss of payload capacity due to an anomaly in the power system.

 

CHANDRAYAAN-2

Chandrayaan-2 is a follow on mission to Chandrayaan-1 with a lander and rover to collect samples of lunar soil and conduct in-situ studies of chemical and mineralogical content of the lunar soil. While the lander will be provided by Russia, the orbiter and the rover are being built by ISRO. The seven payloads to be flown onboard Chandrayaan-2 (orbiter and rover) have been finalised by a National committee Chaired by Chairman, Advisory Committee on Space Sciences (ADCOS) with experts drawn from ISRO centres, academic institutions and R & D laboratories.

 

HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT PROGRAMME

Pre-project studies were undertaken on the critical technologies related to human spaceflight aimed at carrying 2 or 3 crew members to a low earth orbit and their safe return. A Project proposal on “Development of critical technologies for Human Spaceflight Project” has been submitted to Government.

 

SOCIETAL APPLICATIONS

The hallmark of Indian Space Programme has been the application-oriented efforts and the benefits that have accrued to the country.

The INSAT communication satellite constellation facilitated space application programmes and services including telecommunication network, captive satellite-based networks, mobile satellite services, satellite news gathering and dissemination services, TV broadcasting and DTH services, radio networking, satellite aided search and rescue system, meteorological data collection systems and disaster management support. Data from the IRS constellation were effectively utilised, under the umbrella of National Natural Resources Management System, towards operational applications in the areas of crop production forecasting, ground water prospects mapping, water resources information system, accelerated irrigation benefit programme, natural resources census, snow and glacier studies, wasteland monitoring, bio-diversity characterisation, space based information system for decentralised planning and national urban information system.

Several new applications using OCEANSAT-2 scatterometer and climate change related studies got impetus during the current year.

The societal services offered by INSAT satellites in the area of tele-education and telemedicine received further impetus during the year. Today, EDUSAT network has more than 55,000 class rooms connected to various academic institutions and universities. Telemedicine network facilities have expanded further and more than 300 rural hospitals and 16 mobile vans are connected to 60 super specialty hospitals providing health care to citizens, especially in rural areas. More than 200,000 patients per year are getting benefited from this programme. Village Resource Centre (VRC), a single window system provides information on natural resources, land and water resources management, telemedicine, tele-education, adult education, vocational training, health-care and family welfare programmes using the services offered by INSAT and IRS satellites. Already 473 VRCs in 22 states and union territories have been established in the country.

ISRO/ ANTRIX was conferred with the most prestigious Globe Sustainability Research Award 2010 by the Globe Forum, Stockholm, Sweden for demonstrating the use of space technology and Information Technology (IT) solutions to effectively reach out to grassroots through Sujala Watershed development programme in Karnataka, which was implemented in five districts.

 

INDUSTRY PARTICIPATION

Involvement of Indian space industry continued during the year and has made significant contribution towards realisation of subsystems required for Indian Space Programme. DOS has associated more than 500 small, medium and large scale industries while implementing its various programmes. So far, DOS has transferred 294 technologies to Indian industries for commercialisation and undertaken technical consultancies in various fields. So far, 268 patent applications have been filed and 137 patents have been granted. Patents for 17 new products/processes developed by ISRO/DOS were filed during the year and ten patents were granted during the year.

Antrix Corporation Ltd., the commercial arm of DOS, gained major successes in the commercial launch services market with the successful launching of ALSAT-2A and two nano satellites for international customers launched onboard PSLV-C15 on July 12, 2010. Several contracts for launching satellites onboard PSLV are under finalisation.

 

INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION

International cooperation is recognised as a major element of the country‘s space programme for sharing of resources and efforts between the nations for mutual benefit. Realising this, ISRO has established bilateral and multilateral relations with space agencies and space related bodies with the aim of building and strengthening existing ties between countries; taking up new scientific and technological challenges; refining space policies and international frameworks for exploitation and utilisation of outer space for peaceful purposes. Internationally, India is viewed by space faring nations as an emerging space power, which can achieve its goals in a more cost effective and time-efficient manner. Especially, the developing countries look towards India for assistance in building up their capacities through training and consultancies. The scope of international cooperation has become wider and diverse, as ISRO has made tremendous progress in recent time.

Formal Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) or Agreements have been entered into with several countries towards harnessing the space technology for mutual benefit.

 

HUMAN RESOURCES

The commitment, dedication, knowledge and skills of DOS Personnel have played a key role in the achievements of Indian space programme. DOS attaches great importance to the recruitment, training and development of its manpower to meet the stringent requirements of space programme. Recognising the importance of talented and motivated personnel, the department has laid stress on recruitment, training and career progression features. DOS has complemented and continues to strive for providing its personnel with facilities such as housing, medical, canteen and schooling for their children. In addition, the personnel have been provided with additional compensation packages and rewarded with several incentives on the successful realisation of space missions.

 

IIST

Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), a deemed university, was established towards capacity building in human resources and to meet the growing demands of the Indian Space Programme. The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) under DOS was inaugurated on September 14, 2007 with the objective of offering high quality education in space science and technology. The Institute offers Bachelor’s degree in Space Technology with specialisation in avionics, aerospace engineering as well as integrated Masters degree in applied sciences with special emphasis on space related subjects. The Institute currently has about 600 students from various parts of the country pursuing under graduate, master’s courses and doctoral studies. The institute started functioning from its permanent campus at Valiamala in Thiruvananthapuram from August 2010.

 

CONCLUSION

The space programme in the country is now poised for several major breakthroughs in the development of advanced technology that are needed for the realisation of future launch vehicle and spacecraft missions in the coming years. Necessary infrastructure for casting large boosters, liquid propellant engines, heavy cryogenic boosters for advanced heavier launchers and missions in the area of remote sensing, communications and navigational satellites as well as space science have been established.

The continuing expansion of space applications programmes like Village Resources Centres, telemedicine, tele-education, disaster management support and outreach through Direct-To-Home television, reiterates the increasing role played by the Indian space systems in providing direct benefits to the society. Thus, Indian Space Programme continues to pursue successful goals on all fronts in meeting the objective of achieving self-reliance in space technology and its applications for national development.


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