ISRO’s first private sector-built navigation satellite launch today

New Delhi: Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch its first private sector-built navigation satellite IRNSS-1H from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota on Thursday at 7 PM.

As per the reports, the launch of IRNSS-1H was necessitated following the malfunction of one of NAVIC’s seven satellites IRNSS 1A as its rubidium atomic clocks have failed. The atomic clocks are important to provide the accurate positional data.

The IRNSS-1H was built by a consortium led by Bengaluru-based Alpha Design Technologies under the supervision of a team consists of 70 scientists from ISRO.

Talking to leading daily Times of India, ISRO chairman A S Kiran Kumar had informed, “For the first time, a private company has been involved in the integration of a satellite. Progressively, we will involve more and more companies in satellite assembly activities.”

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by India on par with U.S.-based GPS.

ISRO had launched seven satellites – IRNSS-1G on April 28, 2016, IRNSS-1F (March 10, 2016), IRNSS-1E (January 20, 2016), IRNSS-1D (March 28, 2015), IRNSS-1C (October 16, 2014), IRNSS-1B (April 4, 2014) and IRNSS-1A on July 1, 2013.

According to ISRO officials, the total cost of all the seven satellites was ₹1,420 crore.

The Rs 1,420-crore Indian satellite navigation system NavIC consists of nine satellites — seven in orbit and two as substitutes. One of the substitutes is the IRNSS-1H.

Each satellite has three clocks and a total of 27 clocks for the navigation satellite system (including the standby satellites) were supplied by the same vendor. The clocks are important to provide precise locational data.

What is NavIC?

The system that offers services like terrestrial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation aide for hikers and travellers, visual and voice navigation for drivers, was named ‘NavIC’ (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

According to ISRO, NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach the potential fishing area. The fishermen can also get alert messages relating to bad weather, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line.

These services are provided through a software application on a smart phone.

The Indian space agency also said NavIC is useful for merchant ships in their navigation and also during search and rescue operations.

In the road transport sector, NavIC helps commuters to traverse distances and also enable transport operators to track their vehicles.

According to ISRO, the navigation system is also helpful for railways in tracking trains and also giving an alert in the case of unmanned level crossing.

The Indian space agency said NavIC is also used for other applications like location-based services, survey and alignment, time synchronised services

NavIC provides two types of services — standard positioning service and restricted service. The former is for all users while the latter is an encrypted service for only authorised users.

Starting in July 2013, the Indian space agency has launched seven navigation satellites, with the last one launched on April 28, 2016. Each satellite has a life span of 10 years.

Key features of IRNSS-1H:

Like its other IRNSS predecessors, IRNSS-1H also carries two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload.

The navigation payload of IRNSS-1H will transmit navigation service signals to the users. This payload will be operating in L5-band and S-band.

The ranging payload of IRNSS-1H consists of a C-band transponder, which facilitates accurate determination of the range of the satellite. IRNSS-1H also carries Corner Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging.

The launch vehicle PSLV-C39 will use the ‘XL’ version of PSLV equipped with six strap-ons, each carrying 12 tons of propellant.

The over 1,400 kg spacecraft was built and tested by ISRO along with a consortium of six small and medium industries.

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