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India launches its own weather satellite SCATSAT-1 into orbit

It said the SCATSAT-1's scatterometer will provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services to the users

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Image used for representative purpose only. Wikimedia

26 Sept, 2016: On Monday morning, India successfully put into orbit its own weather satellite SCATSAT-1 in a copy book style.

In the second phase of its mission, the rocket will launch seven other satellites – five foreign and two Indian – between 11.25 to 11.28 a.m., in a different orbit.

Exactly at 9.12 a.m., the PSLV rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 tonne tore into the morning skies with fierce orange flames at its tail.

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Gathering speed every second, the rocket raced towards the heavens amidst the cheers of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) officials and the media team assembled at the rocket port here.

At the rocket mission control room, Indian space scientists at ISRO were glued to their computer screens watching the rocket escaping the earth’s gravitational pull.

Seventeen minutes into the flight, the rocket’s main cargo, the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 – for ocean and weather related studies – was injected into a 730 km polar sun synchronous orbit.

Although SCATSAT-1 is a follow-on mission for Oceansat-2 improvements have been made in the satellite’s hardware configuration based on lessons learnt from Oceansat-2 instruments.

Also SCATSAT-1’s payload has been characterised with the objective of achieving data quality for Climate Data Records, apart from facilitating routine meteorological applications, the ISRO said.

It said the SCATSAT-1’s scatterometer will provide wind vector data products for weather forecasting, cyclone detection and tracking services to the users.

The satellite carries Ku-band scatterometer similar to the one flown onboard Oceansat-2.

The mission life of the satellite is five years.

The remaining seven satellites will be placed in a 689 km polar orbit later.

These seven satellites include five foreign satellites: three from Algeria (Alsat-1B 103kg, Alsat-2B 117kg, Alsat-1N 7kg), and one each from Canada (NLS-19, 8kg) and US (Pathfinder-44kg).

The two other Indian satellites are: Pratham (10kg) built by Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B) and Pisat (5.25 kg) from PES University, Bengaluru and its consortium.

According to the ISRO, the two Algerian satellites Alsat-1B and Alsat-2B are remote sensing satellites while Alsat-1N is a technology demonstration nano satellite for Algerian students.

On the other hand, the US satellite Pathfinder-1 is a commercial high resolution imaging micro satellite while the Canadian NLS-19 satellite is la technology demonstration nano satellite for experimentation in helping to reduce space debris and for tracking commercial aircraft.

The IIT-B’s satellite Pratham’s mission objective is to estimate the total electron count with a resolution of 1km x 1km location grid while Pisat from PES University and its consortium is a nano satellite for remote sensing applications.

After slinging SCATSAT-1 into its orbit the rocket’s fourth stage will be restarted one hour 22 minutes into the flight and cut off around 20 seconds later.

Two hours and 11 minutes into the flight the fourth stage will again be restarted to be cut offAone minute later.

Following that in three minutes all the seven satellites will be ejected putting an end to PSLV’s longest mission till date.

The PSLV rocket is a four stage/engine rocket powered by solid and liquid fuel alternatively.

Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) director K. Sivan told IANS on Sunday that the long time gap between the cutting off of the engine and its restart was not an issue.

Sivan said the first time the multiple burn technology was first tested by ISRO while flying its PSLV rocket on December 16, 2015 and in June 2016, the technology was again demonstrated.

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About the challenge, Sivan said: “After cutting off the engine, its condition should be brought to such a stage that it could be restarted again. The next challenge is to controlling the engine and bringing it so as to eject the remaining satellites into a different orbit.”

He said the rocket has GPS aided navigation system so that data generated by the rocket’s inertial navigation system and the one provided by the former will be blended so as to erase and errors and to generate a precise data. (IANS)

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NASA and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) team up to inspect ‘Oldest Civilisation’ site in Haryana

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Harappan Civilization Site. Image Source - Wikipedia

Chandigarh, May 15, 2017: Teams of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) would inspect the excavation being carried out at an archaeological site in Haryana’s Fatehabad district to verify claims of it being the oldest civilisation in the world.

Archaeologists have recovered artefacts pre-dating the Harappan Civilisation from the site, located in village Kunal in Fatehabad district.

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NASA and ISRO inspection is likely to be done in October this year, 2017, Haryana Archaeology and Museums Minister Ram Bilas Sharma said on Monday.

“The recovery of artefacts, estimated to be 6,000 years old, strongly indicated that the civilisation that had flourished in Kunal was in fact the oldest civilisation in the world. The Harappan Civilisation, considered so far to be the oldest civilisation, flourished about 3,500 years ago,” the Minister said.

The artefacts recovered included ornaments and pots, apart from spherical structures.

The Haryana government is considering to establish international-level museums at Kunal and Rakhigarhi. (IANS)

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ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar is thrilled to create India’s own space shuttle

The idea to make reusable rockets a reality is to cut down the cost of access to space by at least 10 times

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ISRO Chief Kiran Kumar. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The stepping stones of ISRO (Indian space research organisation) were laid by none other than our own beloved Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. After deploying its own GPS system through NAVIC, ISRO (India’s version of NASA) is all set to achieve another milestone in the field of space and technology. India is going to launch its own indigenous Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). According to indianexpress.com if this attempt becomes a success then the cost of access to space will decline significantly by 10 times.

What does RLV mean ?

RLV is a mechanism of launching which intends to bring down the cost of launch. Initially, a series of technology demonstrations will take place followed by the testing of HEX-01 (also called winged body). ISRO chairman Kiran Kumar explains the whole mechanism of this upcoming experiment. He further elucidates that HEX-01 will be launched from Sriharikota Island. After coming back from space it will be guided by satellites and radars to make it land in the Bay of Bengal. However, the final winged body will land on Sriharikota Islands only (i.e. on land only).

Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
Vikas engine of ISRO, Wikimedia commons
  • K Sivan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram said “These are just the first baby steps towards the big Hanuman leap. The final version will take at least 10-15 years to get ready since designing a human-rated reusable rocket is no kid stuff.
  • Apart from America, no other superpowers have attempted operational flights.
    • The US flew its space shuttle 135 times and then retired in 2011. It is said that it lost its capacity afterwards to send astronauts into space.
    • Russians made only a single space shuttle called ‘Buran’ which flew into space once in 1989.
    • French and Japanese made some experimental flights, though.
    • However, Chinese have never even attempted a space shuttle.
  • Indian space shuttle or RLV-TD began its construction nearly 5 years ago. Our government has invested nearly RS 95 Crores in this project. The capability of the vehicle to survive a re-entry at velocities more than that of a supersonic range will be tested by the flight. That is the reason this experiment has also been named as Hyper Sonic Experiment (HEX). Later RLV will be tested for another return flight experiment. After successful completion of these experiments, ISRO will plan the final configuration of the upcoming Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV).
  • Scientists have even developed a material called ‘Indian space plane’. This will help in protecting the exterior surface of the shuttle from the friction caused heat while entering earth’s atmosphere (this temperature goes up to 5000-700 degrees Celsius). This thermal coating failure was the reason due to which the American space shuttle (Columbia) crashed which lead to the death of Kalpana Chawla in 2003. Hence, ISRO is emphasising on the thermal management.
  • Scientists have worked hard in making this dream come true. ISRO’s aim is to have its own ‘swadeshi space shuttle’. Sooner or later the RLV will be renamed as ‘Kalyanam’ after India’s famous former president Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (a legendary aeronautical engineer and rocket scientist) who dreamt of making India into a developed nation.
Former President - Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
Former President – Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Wikimedia commons
  • Given the vast potential which lies within our very own ISRO, we all hope this project becomes a success where all other superpowers have failed.
  • Even though the whole world is silent in attempting winged flights, ISRO’s main motto behind all this is bringing down the overall cost of building space infrastructures. This way scientists at ISRO believe that their capability will increase significantly.

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-Prepared by Pritam

Pritam is a 3rd year engineering student in B.P. Poddar institute of management and technology, Kolkata.

You can reach the author at @pritam_gogreen

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ISRO kickstarts countdown for the launch of PSLV-31

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Chennai: The 48-hour countdown for the launch of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-31), the first one in 2016 began at 9.31 AM on Monday, informed the senior ISRO officials. The PSLV-31 is currently the country’s fifth navigation satellite as the sole passenger.

“The 48-hour countdown for the launch of rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-31) carrying Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-IRNSS-1E began in the Sriharikota rocket port in Andhra Pradesh,” a senior official at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS.

The rocket is expected to blast off at 9.31 AM on January 20 to put into orbit the 1,425 kg IRNSS-1E satellite.

Till date India has launched four regional navigational satellites (IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C and ID) as part of a constellation of seven satellites to provide accurate position information service to users across the country and the region, extending up to an area of 1,500 km.

Though the full system comprises of nine satellites — seven in orbit and two on the ground as stand-by — the navigation services could be made operational with four satellites, ISRO officials had said earlier.

Each satellite costs around Rs 150 crore and the PSLV-XL version rocket costs around Rs 130 crore. The seven rockets would involve an outlay of around Rs 910 crore.

The entire IRNSS constellation of seven satellites is planned to be completed in 2016 itself.

The first satellite IRNSS-1A was launched in July 2013, the second IRNSS-1B in April 2014, the third on October 2014 and the fourth on March 2015.

Once the regional navigation system is in place, India need not be dependent on other platforms.

According to ISRO, IRNSS-1E carries two types of payloads — navigation and ranging payloads. The navigation payload of IRNSS-1E will transmit navigation service signals to the users. This payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band. Also, a highly accurate Rubidium atomic clock is part of the navigation payload of the satellite.

The ranging payload of IRNSS-1E consists of a C-band transponder (automatic receivers and transmitters of radio signals) which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite.

IRNSS-1E also carries Corner Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging.

On January 20 at 9.31 AM the PSLV-XL version rocket standing 44.4 metres tall and weighing 320 ton would blast off from India’s rocket port at Sriharikota.

Just over 19 minutes into the flight, the rocket would put into orbit IRNSS-1E at an altitude 503.3 km.

The satellite’s lifespan is 12 years, the ISRO official said.

The Indian space agency’s mission readiness review committee (MRRC) and the launch authorisation board (LAB) on Sunday gave the green signal for the Wednesday’s rocket launch. (picture courtesy: trvnews.com) (IANS)