Monday, August 25, 2008

Isro to launch Italian, Algerian satellites

According to,
Bangalore: Antrix Corp. Ltd, the commercial arm of India’s space agency, has won a pair of deals from Algeria and Italy to launch earth observation satellites next year on the polar satellite launch vehicle, or PSLV, its workhorse rocket.
The contract awarded by the Algerian space agency to launch Alsat-2A, a 200kg remote sensing satellite, is the first won by Antrix from an African nation. The Algerian agency has the option to launch a second such satellite. For the Italian space agency Agenzia Spaziale Italiana, Antrix will launch a satellite named IMSAT, which will be the second Italian satellite to be boosted into space by the Indian Space Research Organisation, or Isro, which in April 2007 launched Agile, a 352kg scientific satellite.

The Algerian and Italian satellites, besides a 100kg satellite for Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and Cubesat, a three-satellite package from the Netherlands, would ride piggyback on heavier Indian satellites, said K.R. Sridhara Murthi, managing director of Antrix. He didn’t disclose financial details. Antrix is also in talks with space agencies of South Africa and Nigeria to carry out similar launches, Murthi said. “We are also looking at opportunities bigger than that—remote sensing satellites, where payloads (are) of 800kg or even higher.”

Isro offers the home-grown PSLV to carry satellites of up to 1,700kg into low-earth orbit at a cost that’s nearly 30% cheaper than that charged by firms such as International Launch Services, owned by Space Transport Inc. and two Russian organizations, Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center and RSC Energia. Low-earth orbit is the region above earth between 200km and 2,000km, ideal to place earth observation or remote sensing satellites.

India is still a fledgling competitor in the global satellite manufacturing and launch industry, which is expected to grow to $145 billion (Rs6.3 trillion) over 10 years to 2016, from $116 billion in the 10 years to 2006, according to Paris-based research firm Euroconsult.

“(Isro’s) benchmark is with international specifications on quality, reliability and credibility of the systems. And then, you are also cost competitive,” said K. Kasturirangan, director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies, a think tank in Bangalore. “The opportunity is just growing.”

Excellent news. Shows the increasing confidence in ISRO and its launch vehicles by foreign countries.

Monday, August 18, 2008

GSLV-F04 Launch - Official Video

This is an official video put out by ISRO of its fourth GSLV launch in September 2007. Press release on the occasion of the launch can be found over here with photographs.

Source of Video: ISRO/GOI

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Moon mission unit busy as the clock ticks

via TOI
BYALALU (off Bangalore-Mysore highway): The huge, white dish antenna gradually rotates, acting on the commands given out by the control panel. Inside the telemetry centre below the antenna are engineers tapping command keys and peeking curiously into some signals. They are tracking some stars that are lightyears away from the Earth - the Cassiopeia and Tauras.

At the nondescript village Byalalu, 40 km off Bangalore, which smacks of poverty and underdevelopment, is this Rs 100 crore Deep Space Network (DSN) set up by the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network to track the country's first unmanned spacecraft for the Moon mission project, Chandrayaan-1.

Chandrayaan being scheduled for October (the September schedule has been postponed), the countdown has already begun for DSN. The station is the back-end support system and spacecraft signal monitoring unit set up on a 135-acre plot.

The DSN gains importance, more so, after the spacecraft crosses 1 lakh km-distance from Earth as other ISRO stations can monitor only up to this distance. The spacecraft, once launched, takes 300 hours to orbit the Moon and has a lifespan of about two years.

"We were given a timeline to prepare for the mission. We are fully ready and are doing the qualifying tests. Since the system is up and running, we are tracking the stars that are very far from Earth," say engineers at the station.

The DSN has the indigenous 32-metre dia dish antenna, a joint venture of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and the Electronics Corporation of India Limited which is the biggest so far in India. Another small antenna - 18 mtr dia - is a back-up for the big dish. Both the antennae will play a key role in Chandrayaan-1 and also Chandrayaan-2, the second Indian Moon mission, slated for a launch after about four years.
Keeping fingers crossed and hoping for the best!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Moon mission likely in October: ISRO

Chandrayan 1 Ready to go, groundwork for Chandrayan 2 being layed out

via TOI
CHENNAI: India's "ambitious" unmanned
lunar mission 'Chandrayan' is likely to soar into the skies in October second week, Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman G Madhavan Nair said on Wednesday.

"The satellite integration is almost complete. And we would be entering the thermovac in about a week's time. It takes about 45-50 days for the launch after thermovac, after which we would declare the date," he told reporters here.

"The earliest is October," he said. As for the climatic conditions, October was favourable, and ISRO has to look at the appropriate alignment between planets also before deciding on the launch window, he said.

"We do not have the flexibility of launching the mission on any date," he added.

"The payloads have been integrated at the satellite centre in Bangalore... you can see the full spacecraft there," Nair said about the Rs 3.8 billion unmanned mission.

He also said that India had signed MoU with Russia for the Chandrayan 2 project, which will have an Orbiter that would go around the moon and a Lander or Rover which would collect samples from moon's surface after landing on it.

"We hope to achieve this mission by 2011-12," he said. On India's manned mission to the moon, he said ISRO would set into motion building of a capsule for this purpose, the project report for which was awaiting Government approval.

"It is going with good speed. Soon the process will be completed," he said.