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.

India to get global navigation system for ISRO, AAI

NEW DELHI : India will soon acquire a comprehensive global navigation satellite system to meet the requirements of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Airports Authority of India (AAI).

"India has tied up recently with US aerospace major Raytheon Company for the final phase of its ambitious Global Positioning Satellite-Aided Geosynchronous Augmented Navigation System (GAGAN)," said Andy Zogg, the company's vice president of Airspace Management and Homeland Security.

GAGAN will provide satellite-based navigation for civil aviation across South and East Asia, which will provide India with "the most accurate, flexible and efficient" air navigation system deployed.

"Raytheon looks forward to continuing our collaborative relationship with ISRO and AAI during this critical phase of GAGAN. We are committed to a thorough transfer of knowledge of the GAGAN system to further enhance India's leadership position in air navigation," Zogg said.

A Raytheon team will be reaching India soon to deliver the solution and to leverage its experience gained during the past several years in deploying the technology demonstration system phase of GAGAN.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

IIT Kanpur to develop micro satellite

Via Hindu
Kanpur (PTI): In an effort to enhance the flow of information pertaining to disaster management, the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur is all set to develop a micro satellite in collaboration with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

ISRO has in principle given clearance to the project and IIT scientists will visit ISRO, Bangalore later this month for the final commitment.

"We have been discussing this project with ISRO since the last four months. However, the formalities will be completed by the end of this month when we will go to Bangalore and sign the agreements," IIT Kanpur Director Professor Sanjay Govind Dhande told PTI here.

The Micro satellite will give accurate information on the nation's agricultural situation, transmit warnings about natural calamities like floods and famine and this would be largely helpful in disaster management. It will also act as a communicating device for other space satellites. It will barely weigh seven kilogrammes, he added.

The satellite will be based on indigenous technology and the project will take about 18 months to complete. It will then be handed over to ISRO for launch.

When asked about the project's funding, Dhande said, "ISRO has provided us the money required to initiate the project, the rest will be given once MoU is signed."

"The development of this satellite in the year of our organisation's golden jubilee will be of great pleasure," the IIT Director said.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Historic International Agreement on Lunar Exploration Reached

ISRO to be part of NASA's second generation International Lunar Network initiative (INL)

Moffett Field, USA: NASA said it hosted a meeting of space agencies from nine countries last week to discuss the next steps in the ongoing scientific exploration of the moon. According to the space agency, the meeting laid the groundwork for a new generation of work related to lunar science.

Representatives from space agencies in Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States attended the meeting. The focal point of the discussions was cooperation on an international activity called the International Lunar Network (ILN).

The network is designed to gradually place 6-8 fixed or mobile science stations on the lunar surface. These stations will form a second-generation robotic science network to replace hardware left by the Apollo programme to study the moon's surface and interior.

NASA plans to place its first two ILN landers on the surface of the moon in 2013-14. The landers are being developed under the Lunar Precursor Robotic Program at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center. Huntsville, Ala.

Representatives from space agencies considering participation in the ILN agreed on a statement of intent as a first step in planning. The statement marked an expression of interest by the agencies to study options for participating in a series of international lunar missions.

The goal is to form a network of missions that will benefit scientists worldwide.

The statement of intent does not completely define the ILN concept. The document leaves open the possibility for near and long-term evolution and implementation. Initially, participants intend to establish potential landing sites, interoperable spectrum and communications standards, and a set of scientifically equivalent core instrumentation to carry out specific measurements.

Discussions were held at NASA's Lunar Science Institute, located at the Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

"We are tremendously excited by the enthusiasm shown for the ILN and lunar science more broadly," said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. "This international activity will greatly extend scientific knowledge of the moon in a number of important areas."

"We are in a new era of lunar exploration," said Jim Adams, deputy director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters. "Scientific coordination of the international armada of missions being sent to the moon in the next decade will greatly leverage our scientific capabilities, and perhaps even more importantly, develop the next generation of lunar scientists."

International participation in specific ILN activities will be established by appropriate international agreements. Additional participants may join in the future when they are programmatically and financially ready.

Participation in the ILN could include the contribution of landers, orbiters, instrumentation, or other significant infrastructure, such as ground segment elements or power supplies for surviving the lunar night.


Chandrayan 1 Mission Preparations Progressing Well

Preparations on for moon mission

via Hindu
CHENNAI: Preparations have begun for the launch of Chandrayaan-1, India’s moon mission, with the stacking of the stages of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C11) under way at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh from July 21. Simultaneously, the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft, with its 11 payloads from India and abroad, has been assembled fully at the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bangalore. A 32-metre-diameter dish antenna is ready at Byalalu village near Bangalore to track the spacecraft during its 3,84,400 km journey to the moon. If the campaign goes as planned, the PSLV-C11, which is a more powerful version and is called PSLV-XL, will put Chandrayaan-1 in orbit on September 19.

Top officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation said: “We have started stacking the PSLV at Sriharikota for the Chandrayaan-1 mission. We are now building the first stage. The launch campaign has begun. We are moving the various stages from the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu to Sriharikota.”

M. Annadurai, Project Director, Chandrayaan-1, called it “a national mission with international participation and India as the captain.” He said from Bangalore, “All the 11 payloads of the spacecraft have been integrated fully. The next milestone is to go for the thermo-vacuum tests.” These entail the creation of space-like vacuum in a big chamber at the ISAC. Mr. Annadurai said: “The fully integrated Chandrayaan-1 will be subjected to tests in the vacuum-like space environment. It will go through tests in minus 120 degrees Celsius and searing hot temperatures.”

After the thermo-vaccum tests, it would go through vibration tests to test its integrity. The spacecraft would later be moved to Sriharikota, he said.

The PSLV-XL is a more powerful vehicle than the normal PSLV. It is suffixed with XL because its strap-on booster motors are extra long.

S. Ramakrishnan, Director (Projects), VSSC, said: “A PSLV has six strap-on motors. A normal strap-on will use nine tonnes of solid propellants. But XL will have 12 tonnes of propellants in each strap-on. We have also extended the length of the strap-ons from ten metres to 13.5 metres. That is why it is called XL – extra long.”

The PSLV-XL is a four-stage vehicle with a weight of 316 tonnes and a height of 44.4 metres. Chandrayaan-1 will weigh 1,304 kg on the earth but 590 kg when it orbits the moon at an altitude of 100 km.

The PSLV-XL would put Chandrayaan-1 in a long, elliptical orbit with an apogee of 22,000 km and a perigee of 200 km.

Mr. Ramakrishnan explained how Chandrayaan-1 would reach the moon from this transfer orbit: “You fire the apogee kick motor [on board the spacecraft] to extend the ellipsis from 22,000 km to about half a million km. That is how it reaches the vicinity of the moon. Once it nears the moon, Chandrayaan-1’s velocity is reduced by rotating the spacecraft in the opposite direction. It is called retro-firing. Its velocity is reduced so that the moon’s gravity will capture Chandrayaan-1 and it will be in moon’s orbit.”

From an altitude of 100 km above the moon’s surface, Chandrayaan-1’s payloads will be used to investigate the moon’s minerals and chemical properties, detect the presence of water, if any, on the lunar surface, map the moon’s surface and look for clues on its origin and evolution.

One of Chandrayaan-1 payloads called Moon Impact Probe (MIP) will be ejected after the spacecraft reaches the lunar orbit.

What is this blog about?

This blog chronicles the news and information related to all the activities of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). I hope to post news articles, images, videos etc., related to ISRO.

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