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ISRO gears up for busy 2019

By T E Narasimhan
January 05, 2019 10:01 IST
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Over 32 missions -- satellites and rockets -- have been planned for the year.
T E Narasimhan reports.

IMAGE: ISRO's GSLV-F08 carrying the GSAT-6A communication satellite. Photographs: Kind courtesy ISRO

2019 will be the busiest yet for the Indian Space Research Organisation, with double the number of launches compared to 2018 -- 32 to this year's 17.

The missions scheduled include a third-generation remote sensing satellite, a third-generation ocean satellite and a couple of communication satellites.

The most complex would be Chandrayaan-2, the country's second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. Another important mission would be the launch of the two-satellite Indian Data Relay Satellite System, of which one will be launched in 2019.

It will maintain continuous communication with India's remote sensing/earth observation satellites and with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III) that is planned to carry three Indian astronauts to space in 2022.


IMAGE: ISRO's GSLV-MkIII-D2 mission, carrying high-throughput communication satellite GSAT-29.

In launch vehicles, ISRO expects to fly its first small rocket with a carrying capacity of 500 to 700 kg next year.

Today, ISRO has two operational launchers, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV).

The next variant of GSLV is GSLV Mk-III, with indigenous high-thrust cryogenic engines and stage, having the capability of launching the four-tonne class of communication satellites.

IMAGE: ISRO's PSLV-C40, carrying the cartosat series, along with 30 other satellites, lifts off from Sriharikota.

2018 also saw some important initiatives, including bringing in private entities to build satellites. The UR Rao Satellite Centre has signed work order contracts with three different vendors, to help in the assembly, integration and testing for satellites.

The companies are Alpha Design Technologies, Bharat Electronics and Tata Advanced Systems. These firms will build 27 satellites, to be launched before 2023. These would comprise seven communication, 12 Earth observation, five navigation and three science satellites.

ISRO launched a remote sensing earth observation satellite in the Cartosat-2 series, a GSAT-6A communication satellite, eight navigation satellite to join the IRNSS Space Segment, GSAT-29 for communication, HysIS for earth observation and from the GSAT-11 Mission in the Ariane-5 launch vehicle from France, for communication.

The latest was the GSAT-7A satellite, launched on December 19.

Highlights of 2018

  • Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi announces manned mission in 2022.
  • ISRO tests space crew escape module and other technologies for the mission.
  • Space agency crosses the milestone of lifting and putting into orbit over 250 foreign satellites bringing the total to 269.
  • Decision taken to transfer lithium ion cell battery technology to industry, 14 firms shortlisted.

Highlights for 2019

  • Year will start with Rs 8 billion Chandrayaan-2, India's second moon mission.
  • Over 32 missions -- satellites and rockets -- have been planned for the year.
  • 8 PSLVs, 2 GSLV Mk II and 2 GSLV Mk III, 2 SSLV and 1 test GSLV Mk III for Gaganyaan project will take off.
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T E Narasimhan
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