Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ISRO announces launch of Oceansat-2 in September

Krishnamurthy, Director of ISRO’s Regional Remote Sensing Service Centre here on Monday.

The integration of the satellite, designed to identify potential fishing zones, assists in forecasting marine trends and coastal zone studies will also provide inputs for weather forecasting and climate studies.

Krishnamurthy said that all pre-launch tests on the functional aspects of the satellite have been successfully completed.

“We are launching a satellite called Oceansat-2 based on the ocean colour and the wind vectors. This scatterometer, which gives us, the wind vectors will provide information on where the fish potential zones are and how these are moving. In a dynamic situation also, the fishermen can get the advisories from the remote sensing information,” he added.

Oceansat-2 would blast off on board India’s indigenous workhorse, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) at Sriharikota located on the Indian east coast.

This satellite will be an in-orbit replacement to Oceansat-1, which was launched by ISRO in May 1999 to study physical and biological aspects of oceanography.

Oceansat-2 would carry an Ocean Colour Monitor (OCM) and a Ku-band pencil beam Scatterometer - for the first time, besides a Radio Occultation Sounder for Atmospheric Studies (ROSA)

Indigenous tank T-90 Bhishma rolls out

The first batch of the indigenously built T-90 Bhishma tanks was on Monday (August 24) flagged off by Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju at the rolling out ceremony held at the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, in Chennai.
The T-90S tank incorporates many new technologies in terms of mobility, protection, fighting capabilities, safety and communication.
The tank is equipped with 125mm smooth bore gun stabilised in Elevation and Azimuth, 12.7mm anti-craft machine gun and 7.62mm co-axial machine gun supported with high accuracy sighting systems and Automatic Loader ensuring high rate of fire.
A significant feature of this tank is its capability to fire guided missile in addition to conventional ammunition using the same main gun barrel. The integrated fire control system consisting of the gunner’s sight, guided weapon system and ballistic computer facilitates accurate firing of conventional ammunitions as well as the guided missiles.
The built in Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) enhances the tank protection, which will save crew and equipment from chemical, biological and radio active (nuclear) attack. New Thermal imagers have been installed in the tank with night fighting capability and the radio communication sets have been upgraded to improve the communication.
According to a release, HVF has plans to produce 100 tanks per year. HVF took up manufacture of T-90 Tanks in collaboration with Russia, which is named as Bhishma. The first Bhishma tank assembled with imported knocked down aggregates was rolled out on January 7, 2004 and subsequently T-90 indigenous tank production commenced in 2008-09.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

DRDO develops Indigenous Unmanned Ground Vehicle

The Indian Army has received its first homemade unmanned ground vehicle, which will be used for surveillance, and to detect nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and mines.

The prototype of the vehicle, which has been developed and handed to the Indian Army for trials, is based on an infantry fighting vehicle, the BMP-II, and has been developed by the state-owned Combat Vehicles Research & Development Establishment. It is operating under India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The prototype consists of a drive-by-wire system, which includes electromechanical actuators and drives for the driver interfaces, such as acceleration, brake, gear shifting, steering, clutch, parking brake, etc., said a DRDO scientist. The signals from the engine are acquired by a data acquisition card and displayed in the graphical user interface. The vehicle would be a precursor to the development of a future unmanned battle tank.

ISRO completes design of Chandrayaan-2

After its success with its first unmanned lunar arbiter, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has begun preparation for the ambitious Chandrayaan-2, a joint venture with Russia that will have a moon rover supplied by the latter.

ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair told that the design of the mission was complete and the space organisation would be building the orbital flight vehicle while the '''Lunar Craft' would be supplied by Russia.

ISRO would be building the entire spacecraft that would also have other scientific payloads acquired internationally.

''The landing of the rover would be decided after we analyse the data sent by Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. Now we are set to build a prototype of Chandrayaan-2 and this would happen next year. We will build upon our success with Chandrayaan-1,'' he said.

ISRO had gained lot of positives from the first lunar mission and received valuable inputs on heat radiation on moon's surface.

Accordingly the thermal design of future aircraft would be made, Mr Nair said.

The high solar radiation had caused malfunction of 'Star Sensor' on Chandrayaan-1 in April this year, after the spacecraft had completed six months in lunar orbit and sent back useful data. This necessitated the space scientists to take the space craft up to 200 km radius from 100 km, effectively reducing its functioning.

The ISRO Chief said 95 per cent of the scientific objective of Chandrayaan-1 mission had been achieved and the remaining five per cent of what was left out would be taken up during the next season starting this October.

The redundancy factor would be the utmost on the minds of the scientists working on Chandrayaan-2 after their good experience with the first mission, Mr Nair added.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ISRO to put Algerian satellites in orbit by 2010

With the US clearing the decks for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to launch Algerian Satellites with American components, the space agency is planning to put the satellites in orbit by the end of 2009 or early 2010.

The clearance given to launch the Algerian satellites ALSAT-2A and ALSAT-2B -- which have US components on board an Indian space launch vehicle -- comes after the signing of the Technical Safe Guards Agreement (TSA) between the US and India during US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to the country.

“Now that the clearance has been given, we plan to launch the Algerian satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre by the end of the year or early next year if the weather permits,” ISRO spokesperson S Satish.

He added that the space agency’s main priority is to launch the Oceansat- 2 in September followed by the GSAT-4 onboard the GSLV in Octobe or November.

The TSA gives an opportunity for the launch of foreign built non-commercial satellite and not the heavy commercial ones which will require India and the US to sign the commercial space launch agreement (CSLA) which is likely to be signed between India and the US during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visit to Washington next month.

ISRO will also launch the Swiss Cube, a mini satellite built by Swiss students later this year; which will be launched by PSLV. The project manager of the Satellite project Muriel Noca along with the Swiss Astronaut Prof Claude Nicollier are currently touring Indian cities, including Bangalore.

The primary objective of developing this satellite is to provide a dynamic and realistic learning environment for our staff in the development of small satellite technology, said Noca.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ISRO eyes mission to Mars; Govt sanctions Rs 10 cr

fter the challenging mission to moon, ISRO today said it has begun preparations for sending a spacecraft to Mars within the next six years.

Government has sanctioned seed money of Rs 10 crore to carry out various studies on experiments to be conducted, route of the mission and other related details necessary to scale the new frontier, said ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair. 

"Already mission studies have been completed.Now we are trying to collect scientific proposals and scientific objectives," he told reporters on the sidelines of a day-long workshop of the Astronautical Society of India here. 

He said the space agency was looking at launch opportunities between 2013 and 2015.

Chandrayaan-I, the country's maiden unmanned moon mission, appears to have fired the imagination of young scientists who have taken to space sciences and ISRO plans to tap this talent for its mission to Mars.

"A lot of young scientists are being brought into the mission, particularly from the Indian Institute of Space Technology, the Physical Research Laboratory, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and other research laboratories," K Radhakrishnan, Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, said. 

He said the space agency would use its Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) to put the satellite in orbit and was considering using ion-thrusters, liquid engines or nuclear power to propel it further towards Mars.

ISRO launches beta version of 3D mapping tool - Bhuvan

The common man can now view sharper pictures of any part of the world on their personal computer using satellite images with ISRO today unveiling 'Bhuvan', its version of Google Earth.
Minister of State in the PMO Prithviraj Chavan launched the beta version of the geoportal www.bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in at a day-long workshop of the Astronautical Society of India on "21st Century Challenges in Space -- Indian Context."
The new web-based tool allows users to have a closer look at any part of the subcontinent barring sensitive locations such as military and nuclear installations.
The degree of resolution showcased is based on points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered upto at least six meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters, an ISRO official said.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

ISRO developing 7-satellite constellation to guard the country

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a constellation of seven satellites to give a boost to the country's  security apparatus, a top scientist said here Sunday.

ISRO chief G. Madhavan Nair said the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) was being developed "considering security related issues".

Speaking at the Indian Institute of Technology-Delhi, Nair said: "The proposed system would consist of a constellation of seven satellites and a ground support segment. Three of the satellites will be placed in the geostationary orbit and four near the geostationary orbit.

"Such an arrangement would mean all seven satellites would have continuous radio visibility with the Indian control stations. The satellite payloads will consist of atomic clocks and electronic equipment to generate the navigational signals," he said.

"The system is intended to provide an absolute position accuracy of more than 20 meters throughout India and within a region extending approximately 2,000 km around it," Nair explained.

The system will help in tracking infiltration activities across the border and security personnel maintain better surveillance over tough terrains, mountains or deep inside the sea.

The ISRO chief did not say when the system is expected to be operational.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

BrahMos close to final testing of air-launched version

BrahMos supersonic cruise missileA top Russian defence official said a new takeoff engine for launching of the missile in air and at extreme high altitudes had been developed.
Alexander Leonov, Director of the Russian Machine Building Research and Production Center, said: "we are ready for test launches."
Leonov was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency that the initial test firing of the missile would be undertaken from the Sukhoi-30 MKI, but did not specify the exact dates.
After testing, the IAF would be launch customers for the air launched BrahMos cruise missile, which will make the Indian Air Force, the only force in Asia to have such a capability.
The BrahMos is already inducted in its ship to shore role and land-to-land versions in the Indian Navy and Army.
Leonov for the first time disclosed that Moscow and New Delhi were also "very close" to  designing and testing of the submarine launched version of the BrahMos missile.
India's indigenous nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, which has been launched for final sea trials, could be using the Indian made K-15 nuclear missile. But experts say that its upgraded versions would have facilities to carry BrahMos cruise missiles.
Though Leonov did not directly comment, Russian sources have indicated that the Akula-II class Nerpa nuclear submarine being leased to India this December has the capability to launch underwater BrahMos missiles.

Monday, August 3, 2009

India’s growing military muscle

The recent launch of an indigenously produced nuclear powered submarine once again brought to fore India’s expanding military capabilities and its ambitions to be a global player. Clearly, when the 6,000-ton Arihant along with the other additional two (or four) of its class are commissioned around 2020 it would be a quantum jump in its strategic posture and assets. Acquisition of a nuclear powered submarines forms part of India’s nuclear doctrine that is based on the concept of triad i.e. developing land, air and sea strike capability and adherence to “No First Use” (NFU). Major nuclear powers consider submersible launched nuclear-tipped missiles critical in terms of providing second-strike capability. Submarines are autonomous under water platforms for launching nuclear-tipped missiles and are relatively safe from enemy action as these are practically noiseless and stealth makes it hard to detect by sonar and radar. Thus they are able to achieve both mobility and surprise. And by escaping detection they can survive adversary’s first strike. Nuclear-powered submarines’ distinct advantage over diesel electric ones is their unlimited endurance in remaining submersed and therefore in a state of readiness. This is the major reason why US, France and few other countries have abandoned the production of conventional submarines and only manufacture nuclear-powered submarines.
In terms of technology too, Arihant is a major breakthrough for India. Manufacturing a submarine requires mastery of a broad range of critical technologies ranging from development of a pressurised water reactor, containment vessel, turbines, sonar and sound navigation and ranging systems, electronics, long-wave communication network and systems integration.
In addition India has undertaken a parallel development of missiles to be launched from submarines. India’s defence production has greatly benefited from the support received from Russia in terms of design, production of major assemblies, training equipment and training of personnel. France, Israel and other countries have also assisted in this project and continue to do so. In the longer term India aims at achieving strategic parity against China through the development of its naval nuclear and conventional capabilities.
Induction of nuclear submarines is directed primarily to remove asymmetry with China that has 11 nuclear and 60 conventional submarines and has recently inducted three new nuclear submarines. Meanwhile, in the coming decade India plans to augment its surface ship fleet by an additional 40 ships.
Both India and China aim at expanding their influence in the waters of the Indian Ocean, Gulf and Malacca straits. They want to secure sea lanes by projecting power. United States and Russia are supportive of India’s ambitions.
India is simultaneously modernising and expanding its air force. It plans to induct 126 fourth and fifth generation multi-role aircraft from US, Russia and France to phase out old fleet of Russian MiGs and adding 10 squadrons to the IAF. After initial procurement emphasis is on establishing indigenous production lines. If the recent US offer of sale and co-production of F-18 Hornet E/F series to India materialises it will bring a qualitative upgrading in its delivery systems. With the help of Israel and US, India is also developing a long-range reconnaissance capability and an air defence system. India’s missile capability is set to grow at a steady pace. It has developed both ballistic and cruise missile technology providing it the ability to project power. India is improving range and accuracy of its long range missiles to be able to reach potential targets in China. Pakistan has kept pace with India in both missile and nuclear development and have operational missiles with a range of 2000 km that practically cover most of India.
Critical technologies associated with India’s space program that includes two vehicles the Polar Stationery Launch Vehicle and the geostationary-launch vehicle have been transferred to the missile programmes.
Unlike India, Pakistan does not contemplate having missiles launched from nuclear powered submarine as a part of its nuclear force in the foreseeable future. High cost, non-availability of nuclear submarines and different strategic goals are the main reasons for this. However, if the vulnerabilities of Pakistan’s land-based systems to pre-emptive attack should increase the option of using conventional submarines with Independent Air Propulsion systems procured from France or Germany and fitting them with nuclear-tipped missiles could be an option.
It would, however, be a folly to imitate or be reactive in responding to India’s military build-up. India’s size, population and resources, and its industrial, technological and economic base places it in competition with China and other major players. Prudence demands that we formulate domestic, foreign and defence policies that are commensurate with our power potential and based on well articulated national priorities. This does not imply that Pakistan should lower its security guard that could allow external powers to exploit. What is crucial is to balance resources between development and defence and take a more comprehensive approach towards security, keeping in mind that our immediate threat is internal. Moreover, acquisition of advance weapon systems alone is not sufficient to protect a nation against aggression. We have a classic example of Soviet Union and later of Yugoslavia disintegrating despite their inflated military power. Besides we must learn from the example of Finland and Switzerland that have struggled to stay independent and not accepted the hegemony of relatively very powerful neighbours. Middle level powers like Pakistan have to defend their national integrity and interests through political stability, economic development, national cohesion, astute diplomacy and professionally dedicated military force.

India developing reactor for making hydrogen as tech demonstrator

India has joined the league of countries like South Africa, China, US and Germany which are trying to develop a high temperature

reactor for generating hydrogen on a large scale. Hydrogen can be used as fuel for vehicles, besides other scientific applications in the future.
The technology demonstrator reactor would be ready by 2015 and work is currently in progress on the project, Anil Kakodkar, Atomic Energy Commission chairman told reporters here on Sunday.
Srikumar Banerjee, director, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), said the reactor would generate hydrogen by splitting water. The reactor's operational efficiency would be very much enhanced. Already efforts are on in countries to develop such a reactor, he said.
"The programme is on course. Technology development is on, we are developing the reactor design, materials, material processing capabilities. The actual construction of the reactor will take some time," he said.
Kakodkar said India would have sufficient uranium to meet the requirements of the already existing reactors and those in the process of being commissioned.
"By 2012-13, we would overcome the problems for all the reactors currently operating and those that will come on stream. We are looking at launching four 700 Mw units, for which in-principle approval has been granted. We want to get the approvals at the earliest and start construction soon. That is where the new mines will come in handy. We also want to construct another four 700Mwe units," he said.
Uranium production in India was going up, he added. "We earlier had one mill in Jadaguda in Jharkhand. Now we have augmented the capacity there. Simultaneously expansion of mines in Mohudih in Jharkhand and a mill in Tummalapalli in Andhra Pradesh is going on, Kakodkar said, adding that Gogi in Karnataka would be explored for uranium presence.
Also, in a couple of years all the reactors (both operational and the ones that are being commissioned) would reach a plant load factor of 90%. "We are adding capacity for our reactors. Rajasthan V and VI and Kaiga IV will come online in a phased manned this year and next year," the AEC chairman said.
"In terms of production of enriched uranium fuel, we would be able to meet the national requirments," he added.
For electricity production, trhe immediate plan would be to acquire this technology from outside. "While we are building the PHWRs and FBRs and later on the thorium reactors, we would, in parallel, develop the PWRs on the basis of our own strengths." Kakodkar said.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

India built N-sub in Kalpakkam under codename 'PRP'

The secrecy attached to the development of the indigenous nuclear submarine project is almost legendary.
What’s little known is the extent to which the Indian N-establishment went to conceal the research not only from the public but also large sections of the scientific community within the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
For almost nine years, most staff working at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) in Kalpakkam believed the Plutonium Recycle Project (PRP) in the complex was used only for that purpose, that is recycling plutonium.
But with the launch of INS Arihant on July 25, top DAE officials have finally begun to lift the veil and reveal that they were actually building the core (nuclear reactor and propulsion systems) of the submarine as well as the land-based version of the hull of the indigenous vessel, which served as the technology demonstrator of the main vessel, within the PRP unit. For those in the know, even the term ‘PRP’ denoted the N-sub.
Sunday marked the commemoration of the fifth year since the project attained criticality at the PRP site with a controlled N-chain reaction. Ahead of a briefing by Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) chairman Anil Kakodkar, a team of scientists escorted journalists around a gigantic, dark grey-coloured hull of a submarine, which was the land-based version of the hull of Arihant. ‘‘It is a 1:1 model of the submersible. Everything was simulated here before being built on the main submarine at Vishakapatnam,’’ a scientist explained.
Although the idea of an indigenous nuke sub was conceived by Raja Ramanna over two decades back and research undertaken at Barc in Trombay, work on the PRP site in Kalpakkam began in 1999.
Criticality was attained on November 11, 2003, with the land-based version running on a light water reactor, scientists revealed. But Arihant remained shrouded in mystery. Three years later, on September 22, 2006, when the reactor was operational there was still silence.
In fact, going by dates provided now, the first hints of the project’s success came only a year later on September 11, 2007, when former AEC chief P K Iyengar said at a public meeting, ‘‘Indian scientists are capable of making light water reactors. We are constructing one at Kalpakkam for a submarine.’’
Defending the need for stealth, an IGCAR official explianed, “We had to maintain secrecy as this was a project of high national secrecy and security and we did not want other nations to know about this.’’

Saturday, August 1, 2009

BrahMos Block-II Land Attack version ready for induction after test firing

Jaisalmer: The Block-II version of the BrahMos land attack cruise missile successfully completed its fourth and final test firing on Wednesday and has now been declared ready for induction. In a test firing at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan, the missile went on to score a "bull's eye" hit on a target 25km away on Wednesday.

The previous test-firing of the Block-II land attack version took place 29 March 2009.

"The missile took off successfully and hit the desired target at Ajasar area range situated 25 km away from launching pad, meeting all mission parameters," defence sources said.

The missile had failed its first test firing, leading to a second test in short order which was a success.

"With this launch, the requirement of Army for the land attack version with Block-II advanced seeker software with target discriminating capabilities has been fully met and this version is ready for induction," defence sources said.

The Block-II version with sophisticated target discriminating software will provide enhanced capabilities to the army, allowing it to select a particular land target among a group of targets.

The launch was witnessed by director general, artillery, Lt Gen KR Rao, along with DRDO officials and other senior army officers. Some other senior scientists were also present during the launch.

The Army has already inducted the earlier land attack version of the BrahMos, with the first battery entering service in June 2007. Each battery is equipped with four mobile launchers mounted on a heavy 12x12 Tatra transporters.

The missile, which takes its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, has a range of 290-km and carries a 300 kg conventional warhead. The BrahMos is unique in being the only supersonic cruise missile in the world.

The missile generates speeds of up to 2.8 Mach, or nearly three times, the speed of sound.

US satellites to use ISRO platform

US satellites to use ISRO platformIndia's technology safeguards agreement signed with US during the recent state visit of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in New Delhi will soon yield fruitful results for the space research program of the country. It will enable India to launch smaller satellites for United States at much competitive prices using indigenously developed rockets.

Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman, Madhavan Nair said, "Space cooperation with the US has been the agenda of the government. The pact will enable US made satellites or with components of US to be launched from India."

He said that the space body is already providing satellite launching services to various nations at very economical prices and more countries to avail the service on mutually agreeable terms. Country has been developing heavier rocket GSLV-MKIII that will help to further reduce the cost of sending a satellite to space.

Mr. Nair, while launching an indigenous GIS mapping software in Ahmadabad, added, "We will have more opportunities to get foreign satellites for launch from India. Prior to the agreement, users had to wait for clearance for every case."

Meanwhile, ISRO will hold a review of country's first unmanned moon mission, the Chandrayaan, in September to set its operations in order.