Saturday February 23, 2019
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Move over GPS: Here’s why you should be thankful to ISRO for developing IRNSS



By Santosh Dubey

Today, most smartphones are equipped with navigation devices but most people do not know that the signals on these handsets are generated through satellites that are controlled by America. Global Positioning System or GPS as we know it, is operated and maintained by the US Air Force.

This means, that all your movements could be easily tracked down by the people sitting in the United States, and if need be, they can easily manipulate the navigation system which you use.

Feeling the need of having our own navigation system, country’s premier space agency ISRO came up with Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). IRNSS is a constellation of seven satellites of which four are already placed in the orbit.

The fourth satellite of the  IRNSS-1D series was put into orbit on March 28 from Sirharikota using the PSLV C-27  . With this launch, India joined the select club of six that have the indigenous capability of generating their satellite-based navigation signals within 20 minutes.

Earlier,  IRNSS-1A, 1B and 1C, the first three satellites of the constellation, were successfully launched by PSLV on July 02, 2013, April 04, 2014 and October 16, 2014 respectively. All the three satellites are functioning satisfactorily from their designated orbital positions.

With this launch, the Indian Space Research Organisation can soon start operations of India’s own version of the  GPS, useful in everyday life for navigation. But unlike GPS, IRNSS-1D will not have its coverage worldwide.

Reach of IRNSS-1D

Its area of coverage is 1500 kms beyond Indian boundaries, mostly focusing on SAARC region. The satellite will also help the nation in mineral exploration. This Indian technology is most needed by India’s armed forces for precision guidance.  Not only this, the navigation system has an accuracy of less than 20 meters, which is comparable to the best in the world.

“This is the fourth satellite in a constellation of seven and it now gives India the indigenous capability for a satellite-based navigation system, this will help the common man. This will also help India helping the SAARC countries getting the benefits of satellite technology as the signals can help them as well,” said  Dr. Jitendra Singh, Minister of State (Independent Charge) in Prime Minister’s Office and Minister for Space.


ISRO’s successful journey

This is not the first time that Indian space research organisation has achieved such success. ISRO has also installed a Multi Object Tracking Radar at a cost of Rs. 245 crore for which trials would be conducted soon.

Apart from this, a reusable launch vehicle would be tested this year as a technology demonstrator.

The recent success of Indian space technology will not only benefit Indian defence but, it will add wings to the life of almost every Indians. The Indian space agency says,  “Very soon India’s own ‘GPS’ system will become operational, which would be an useful addition for the common man, but most needed by the Indian armed forces as it will give them the much needed strategic depth.”

Significance of IRNSS

  • IRNSS will focus on the region — up to 1,500 km beyond India’s boundaries, between longitude 40° E and 140° E, and latitude ± 40°.
  • IRNSS will provide positional accuracies similar to the GPS: 10 m over the Indian landmass, 20 m over the Indian Ocean. As is the case with GPS and the US military, IRNSS will provide a more accurate restricted service for the Indian armed forces and other special authorised users.
  • It will provide terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture.
  • Crucial use will be for Indian armed forces, who can rely on assured positional data during hostilities. Most modern weapon systems like guided missiles and bombs use navigation systems for targeting. An indigenous system like the IRNSS will ensure reliable development and execution of such capabilities.

IRNSS is a strategic requirement for modern war-fighting. Because access to foreign government-controlled navigation satellite systems such as the American GPS or EU’s Galileo is not guaranteed during hostilities — as experienced by India during the Kargil war.


Next Story

ISRO New Rocket ‘SSLV’ to Carry Two Defence Satellites

The Indian space agency will fly two small defence satellites in July/August on its new rocket --now known as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV).


The Indian space agency will fly two small defence satellites in July/August on its new rocket –now known as Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) – said a top official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

“We are planning to fly two defence satellites, each weighing about 120 kg in our new rocket SSLV this July or August. The rocket design recently underwent a detailed integrated technical review,” K. Sivan, ISRO Chairman, told IANS on Wednesday.

He said the total weight of the payload that will be carried by the SSLV on its maiden flight will be about 500 kg. While the two satellites would weight about 120 kg each, there will be adaptors and others that would weigh about 300 kg.

The total weight of the rocket will be 110 tonne, Sivan said.

ISRO, Satellite, SSLV
The total weight of the rocket will be 110 tonne, Sivan said. Flickr

Queried about the need for a second commercial arm – first one is Antrix Corporation – Sivan said: “We want to give a big push for production of SSLV. We expect the demand for SSLV to be about two/three rockets per month. We also want to increase the production of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).”

Sivan said the increase in production is sought to be achieved partnering with the private sector.

He said Antrix Corporation is mainly into transponder leasing and other activities.

On Tuesday, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave its approval for setting up of a new company under the Department of Space (DoS), to commercially exploit the research and development work carried out by ISRO and its constituent units.

The following areas/avenues provide opportunities for commercial exploitation of ISRO programmes:

Small satellite technology transfer to industry, wherein the new company shall take licence from DoS/ISRO and sub-license to industries; manufacture of small satellite launch vehicle (SSLV) in collaboration with the private sector.

ISRO, SSLV, Satellite
He said the total weight of the payload that will be carried by the SSLV on its maiden flight will be about 500 kg. Flickr

Besides, productionisation of PSLV through industry; productionisation and marketing of space-based products and services, including launch and applications; transfer of technology developed by ISRO Centres and constituent units of DoS.

Also marketing of some spin-off technologies and products, both in India and abroad; and any other subject which Government of India deems fit.

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When asked about the technologies that the ISRO can transfer, Sivan said: “We have developed technologies in materials, chemicals and others. These can be transferred so that people can benefit.”

Sivan said the capital for the proposed company will not be large and its name is yet to be finalised. (IANS)