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India to develop its own version of GPS
Sagar Kulkarni in Hyderabad
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September 27, 2007 18:00 IST

India will develop its own version of the Global Positioning System by launching seven satellites in the next six years, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan [Images] Nair said in Hyderabad on Thursday. The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, expected to be functional by 2012, will be used for surveillance, telecommunications, transport, identifying disaster areas and public safety among others.

The satellites will be placed at a higher geostationary orbit to have a larger signal footprint and lower number of satellites to map the region, he said. The first satellite of the proposed constellation, developed at a cost of Rs 1,600 crore, is expected to be launched in 2009.

Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the 58th International Astronautical Congress, Nair said that India has the capability to launch a mission to Mars [Images] but there were no concrete proposals for research on the Red Planet.

"The technological capability exists. We can use the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle to send a 500 kg payload to Mars," he said. However, a very powerful rocket system was required to propel the spacecraft to the planet. On sending a manned mission to space, he said that the ISRO was preparing a project report on undertaking a human spaceflight. "We will submit the report to the government by March for its approval," said Nair.

He said that the mission objective of Chandrayaan-I, India's first mission to moon, was to find the basic signature of the earth's evolution, explore the terrain, look for minerals and explore the possibility of setting up a base which could be used for future planetary missions.

During the IAC, Nair held bilateral talks with heads of seven space agencies, including that of the US, Russia [Images] and China. "The meetings were sort of a status review of the cooperation that already exists," he said.

Nair said India is respected among the international community for developing its space programme independently. "The world is highly appreciative of our space applications programme and others, including the developed nations, are trying to copy it," he said.

Nair added that most of the space faring nations want to replicate India's success in the field of telemedicine and tele-education. Speaking about the Centre's announcement of launching 60 missions in the next five years, he said the ISRO will be able to achieve that target by outsourcing satellite building operations.

"Currently, we have about five to six launches every year and we can scale it by more and more outsourcing," Nair said.

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