Monday, November 25, 2013

ISRO to launch German, French, British and Canadian satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), that got global recognition for its successful launch of a mission to Mars, will now launch German, French, British and Canadaian satellites, a top official said.

"We will be launching EnMAP (Environmental Mapping and Analysis Programme) satellite belonging to Germany. The satellite will weigh around 800 kg," ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told IANS in an interview.

The EnMAP is a hyperspectral satellite that would provide images of the Earth at regular intervals. This apart, ISRO will be launching French satellite SPOT-7 during the first quarter of 2014, Radhakrishnan said.

"There will be four more small foreign satellites that would go along with SPOT-7," he added.

ISRO had launched the SPOT-6 satellite in 2012.

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Nuclear capable Dhanush Ballistic Missile successfully test fired

Dhanush ballistic missileIndia on 23 November 2013 successfully test-fired its nuclear-capable Dhanush ballistic missile from a naval ship off Odisha coast.

The surface-to-surface Dhanush, a naval variant of India's indigenously developed Prithvi missile, was test fired from a location at Bay of Bengal by the Srategic Force Command of the defence force.

The single-stage, liquid propelled Dhanush has already been inducted into the armed services. It is one of the five missiles developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation under the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme.

Dhanush missile is capable of carrying conventional as well as nuclear payload of 500 to 1000 kg and hit both land and sea-based targets. - See more at:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Mars Orbiter Mission payloads

Mars Orbiter Mission carries five payloads:
For atmpospheric studies:
Layman Alpha Photometer (LAP): It is an absorption cell photometer. It measures the relative abundance of deuterium and hydrogen from Lyman-alpha emission in the Martian upper atmosphere (typically Exosphere and exobase). Measurement of D/H (Deuterium to Hydrogen abundance ratio) allows us to understand especially the loss process of water from the planet.
Methan Sensors for Mars (MSM): It is designed to measure methane (CH4) in the Martian atmosphere with PPB accuracy and map its source. Data is acquired only over illuminated scene as the sensor measures the reflected solar radiation. Methane concentration in the Martian atmosphere undergoes spatial and temporal variations.
For particle environment studies:
Mars Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyser (MENCA): It is a quadruple mass spectrometer capable of analysing the neutral composition in the range of 1 to 300 amu with unit mass resolution. The heritage of this payload is from Chandra's Altitudinal Composition Explorer (CHACE) payload.
For surface imaging studies:
Mars Colour Camera (MCC): This tri-colour camera gives images and information about the surface mission and composition of Martian surface. They are useful to monitor the dynamic event and weather of Mars. MCC will also be used for probing the two satellites of Mars - Phobos and Deimos. It also provides the context information for other science payloads.
Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (TIS): This will measure the thermal emission and can be be operated during both day and night. Temperature and emissivity are the two basic physical parameters estimated from thermal emission measurement. Many minerals and soil types have characteristic spectra in TIR region. TIC can map surface composition and mineralogy of Mars.

India launches spacecraft to Mars

Photo: Reuters

In keeping with expectations, the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) trusted workhorse, the PSLV rocket, delivered a perfect launch to India's ambitions of reaching the Red Planet by parking the Mangalyaan spacecraft precisely outside Earth on Tuesday.
The 43-minute launch aboard the PSLV C25 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, some 80 km from Chennai, saw the Mangalyaan spacecraft placed in an argument of perigee of 282.75 degrees which was considered necessary to enable the actual 400 million km transition towards Mars on November 30.
It was a textbook launch for the Mangalyaan spacecraft — the 25th successful mission carried out by the PSLV rocket — and its progress through the 43-minute launch phase — the longest ever for a PSLV — went on cue, with the crucial third stage rockets firing at 33 minutes and the rocket initiating satellite separation at 43 minutes.
"The PSLV 25 has placed the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) very precisely in an elliptical orbit around Earth,'' ISRO chairman K Radhdakrishnan announced at Sriharikota minutes after satellite separation.
ISRO had indicated that a perfect launch of the Rs 450-crore Mars mission would involve achieving a perigee of 250 km (nearest distance to earth) and an apogee of 23,500 km (furthest distance from earth). The PSLV placed the spacecraft at a perigee of 246.9 km and an apogee of 23,566 km. "The satellite is placed well within the 675 km margin of error,'' said ISRO officials.
PSLV mission director P Kunhikrishnan said the 282.63 degree argument of apogee achieved by the launch was only fractionally off the 282.55 degree that would have been considered perfect.
Photo: IE Photo
The Earth orbit position that the PSLV parked the Mangalyaan spacecraft in on Tuesday is considered crucial since this will allow spacecraft scientists, who will now take over the mission, to transfer Mangalyaan into a Mars-bound orbit (trans Mars insertion) on November 30 by using a minimal amount of fuel.
The launch of the Mars orbiter by ISRO has been timed to keep in tune with a 780-day occurrence where Mars comes within 55 million km distance of Earth as compared to the otherwise 400 million km distance.
"This near perfect launch sets the ground for the minimum energy transfer of the spacecraft into the Mars orbit,'' said ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan. ISRO is following a strategy of space travel known as the Hohmann Transfer Orbit or a minimum energy transfer orbit to send the spacecraft from Earth to Mars with the least amount of fuel possible.
"The PSLV has been providing India assured access to space. After meticulous planning it has delivered another near perfect mission. This is a small step in the Mars mission. The journey from here to Mars will utilise less than a fraction of the energy used in this first phase,'' said S Ramakrishnan, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre.
A loud cheer broke out in the ISRO mission control room during the PSLV's flight after about 33 minutes of flight, when a ship bound terminal in the south Pacific picked up the course of the rocket. "There was some concern on that, and this is why there was a cheer when the ship terminal registered the flight and there was not much data lost,'' said the ISRO chairman.
Soon after the Mangalyaan spacecraft was placed in its designated temporary orbit around Earth, operations were conducted on it including the deployment of solar panels. "The spacecraft is in good health,'' said the ISRO chief.
Over the next few days, ISRO will, through a series of orbital raisings, put the MOM in a two lakh km orbit around Earth. On December 1, a sixth and final push will put the MOM in the trans-Martian trajectory — a crucial phase in the journey to Mars.
The Mangalyaan spacecraft is scheduled to reach the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014 if the maneuvers over the next nine months go off like the launch did on Tuesday.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

INS Arihanth - A Giant Stride for Nation

Arihant, which translates as the 'destroyer of enemies" from Sanskrit, now has a new "heart" to take the battle to enemy shores. The miniaturized atomic reactor on board India's first indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihanth as "gone critical", in a big leap towards making the country's long-awaited "nuclear weapons triad" an operational reality.

Sources said the 83mw pressurized light-water reactor, fuelled by enriched uranium, achieved "criticality" late on Friday night after months of "checking and re-checking" of all the machinery, systems and sub-systems of the 6000-tonne submarine at the heavily-guarded ship-building centre at Visakhapatnam.

The green signal for the reactor to be "finally switched on" was apparently given by the top-secret meeting of the Nuclear Command Authority, chaired by PM Manmohan Singh and attended by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) members, among others, on July 31.

On Saturday, congratulating the Navy, Department of Atomic Energy and DRDO for the milestone, the PM said it marked "a giant stride" towards enhancing the country's security. Only the Big-5 — the US, Russia, China, the UK and France - currently operate nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear-tipped missiles.

To be followed by INS Aridhaman and another similar vessel already being constructed under India's "most secretive strategic project" for which over Rs 30,000-crore have already been sanctioned, INSArihant was so far being powered and tested in the harbour with high-pressure steam from the shore.

The umbilical chord has now being cut. With the submarine now powered by the self-sustained, fission reaction in the reactor fitted inside a containment chamber in the hull, it will eventually head for open waters for extensive "sea- acceptance trials" with a 95-member crew led by Captain Sanjay Mahendru.

"The pipelines in INS Arihant went through multiple sets of flushing and cleaning. The first step has been taken. Even if everything goes well, the submarine will still take a minimum of another 18 months to become fully-operational and go on deterrent patrols," said a source.

Another reality check is that the 110-metre-long and 11-metre broad INS Arihant will initially be armed with the K-15 ballistic missiles that have a strike range of just 750-km. They, too, will require testing during the extensive sea trials. They dwarf in comparison to the well over 5,000-km range missiles of the US, Russia and China. The Chinese JL-2 SLBM , for instance, has a 7,400-km strike range. But INS Arihant, which has four silos on its hump to carry a dozen K-15 or four of the under-development K-4 missiles (3,500-km range), is still critical for building India's "credible and survivable" nuclear weapons triad - the capability to fire nukes from land, air and sea - like the Big-5.

The first two legs of the triad - the rail and road-mobile Agni series of ballistic missiles and fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs and Mirage-2000s capable of delivering nuclear warheads - are already in place with the armed forces.

It has taken India more than quarter of a century to come close to achieving the most potent sea-leg of the triad. The capability to deploy submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) is crucial since India has a declared "no first-use policy" for nuclear weapons, and hence needs a robust second-strike capability. The country's nuclear doctrine, after all, itself lays down that "nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage".

SLBMs provide the most effective and difficult-to-detect nuclear weapons since they are difficult for adversaries to take out in "a first or pre-emptive strike". Nuclear-powered submarines can operate underwater for virtually unlimited periods of time, limited only by the crew's mental health, food and other supplies, unlike conventional diesel-electric submarines that have to resurface every few days to get oxygen to re-charge their batteries. Consequently, even the US and Russia, under their strategic arms reduction treatises, are ensuring that over 60% of their nuclear weapons are retained as SLBMs.

Key highlights 

1970: India's hunt for a nuclear submarine began when Indira Gandhi asked BARCDRDO and others to build one. There was no progress for many years till the late-1990s, when the actual construction of the first hush-hush advanced technology vessel (ATV) began. 

2009: The first ATV, named INS Arihant (destroyer of enemies), launched into water on July 26 by flooding the dry dock at the shipbuilding centre at Visakhapatnam. Since then, it has undergone extensive harbour trials on shore-based high-pressure steam. 

2012: India inducted a nuclear-powered submarine, INS Chakra, last year on a 10-year lease from Russia, but it's not armed with nuclear-tipped missiles due to international non-proliferation treaties like the Missile Technology Control Regime. 

2013: Arihant's reactor goes critical in the early hours of August 10. It will now head for sea-acceptance trials before becoming fully operational.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Eye on future, India mulls options for nuclear-powered aircraft carrier

 Nothing projects raw power like an aircraft carrier prowling on the high seas, capable of unleashing strike fighters against an adversary in a jiffy. A nuclear-powered carrier can make the punch even deadlier with much longer operational endurance.

With its first indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC) set to be "launched" at Cochin Shipyard on August 12, and sea trials of the first nuclear submarine INS Arihant to begin shortly after, India is now examining the possibility of having a nuclear-powered 65,000-tonne carrier in the future.

Navy vice-chief Vice Admiral RK Dhowan on Thursday said a "detailed study" was underway on the "size, type of aircraft and their launch and recovery systems, propulsion" and the like for theIAC-II project. "Yes, we are also considering nuclear propulsion. All options are being studied. No final decision has been taken," he said.

There are huge cost issues with nuclear-powered carriers, which can easily take upwards of $10 billion to build. The Royal British Navy is reverting to carriers propelled by gas turbines/diesel-electric systems from nuclear ones.

However, the US has 11 Nimitz-class "super-carriers" — each an over 94,000-tonne behemoth powered by two nuclear reactors and capable of carrying 80-90 fighters - to project power around the globe. China, too, is now looking at nuclear-powered carriers after inducting its first conventional carrier — the 65,000-tonne Liaoning — last September.

So, while Navy may want a nuclear-powered carrier, it will ultimately have to be a considered political decision. The force, however, is firm about its long-term plan to operate three carrier-battle groups (CBGs). "One carrier for each (western and eastern) seaboard and one in maintenance," said Vice Admiral Dhowan.

But, even two CBGs will be possible only by 2019. The 40,000-tonne IAC, to be christened INS Vikrant, will be ready for induction only by December 2018, as was first reported by TOI.

"Design and construction of a carrier has many challenges. Around 75% of the IAC structure has now been erected. India joins only four countries — the US, Russia, the UK and France - capable of building a carrier over 40,000-tonne," he said.

The 44,570-tonne INS Vikramaditya - or the Admiral Gorshkov carrier now undergoing sea trials after a $2.33-billion refit in Russia - in turn will be ready by end-2013 instead of the original August 2008 deadline.

Vice Admiral Dhowan admitted India's solitary carrier, the 28,000-tonne INS Viraat, will soldier on till 2018 due to these long delays. The 54-year-old INS Viraat is left with just 11 Sea Harrier jump-jets to operate from its deck. The 45 MiG-29K naval fighters, being procured from Russia for over $2 billion, can operate only from Vikramaditya and IAC.

The 260-metre-long IAC, whose construction finally began in November 2006, will be able to carry 12 MiG-29Ks, eight Tejas light combat aircraft and 10 early-warning and anti-submarine helicopters on its 2.5-acre flight deck and hangars. It will have a crew of 160 officers and 1,400 sailors. Powered by four American LM2500 gas turbines, the IAC will have an endurance of around 7,500 nautical miles at a speed of 18 knots.

INS Vikrant, India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, to be launched on August 12

India will launch its first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, on August 12 from the Kochi shipyard. This will make India only the fifth country after the US, Russia, Britain and France to have the capability to build such vessels.

"About 83 per cent of the fabrication work and 75 per cent of the construction work will be over when the ship goes into water," said Indian Navy's vice chief, Admiral Robin Dhowan.

The rest of the work, including the flight deck, will be completed once the ship is launched, the Navy vice chief said. The aircraft carrier is expected to be inducted into the Indian Navy by 2018.

Admiral Dhowan also said that the 40,000 tonne indigenous aircraft carrier is one of its most prestigious warship projects and unprecedented in terms of size and complexity. It has been designed by Indian Navy's design organisation.

INS Vikrant will have two take-off runways and a landing strip with three arrester wires capable of operating a STOBAR (Short Take Off But Arrested Recovery). The main stay fighters positioned on board would be Russian made MiG -29k fighter jets. The naval variant of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) produced by India is also scheduled to be positioned on the warship. However, it would depend on how quickly and effectively Navy variant of the LCA is produced and cleared for active duty.

While nearly 90 per cent of the body work of the aircraft carrier has been designed and made in India, about 50 per cent of propulsion system is of Indian origin and about 30 per cent of fighting capability of the warship are from India.

"It will be equipped with a long range surface-to-air missiles system with multi-function radar and close-in weapons system (CIWS)," Admiral Dhowan said.

Apart from joining a select group of nations that build aircraft carriers, the major achievement for India has been the ability to fabricate weapons grade steel. "After our initial difficulty in procuring weapons grade steel, our own laboratories were able to crack the code. Steel Authority of India is now producing the requisite quality of steel" Admiral Dhowan said.

The ability to produce weapons grade steel is a big plus since majority of Indian warships will now be produced in India.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

India to have five rocket launches, including Mars mission, in 2013

India's space agency is planning to have a total of five rocket launches in 2013 from its rocket launch pad at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 80 km from here. This will include a mission to Mars later this year.
Four of the launches are expected to happen between June and December, including the launch of communication satellite G-Sat 14 using heavier rocket - Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) - powered with a domestic cryogenic engine.
"Between June 10 and 15 we are planning to launch the first navigational satellite, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System-R1A (IRNSS-R1A) and it will be followed by the launch of G-Sat 14 some time in July," a senior official at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS, preferring anonymity.
According to officials, the assembling of two rockets is going on at a good pace at the rocket launch centre. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-XL (PSLV-XL) version that will carry the navigation satellite is being assembled at the first launch pad.
"The assembling of the first stage/engine and the strap on motors has been completed. The second stage is under preparation. The satellite is expected soon from the satellite centre in Bangalore," officials said.
The IRNSS-R1A satellite will be the first of seven satellites to be launched into earth orbit to provide real-time position, navigation and time services to multiple users. The space agency plans to launch the second navigation satellite three months after in-orbit tests of the first one and the remaining five satellites over a 14-month period by 2014-15.
These two launches will be followed by the mission to Mars later this year. The launch of one more remote sensing satellite is also being planned before the end of this year.
In February this year India launched the Indo-French Saral satellite and six other small foreign satellites using the PSLV rocket.
India started putting into space third-party satellites for a fee in 1999 on its PSLV-C2 rocket. Since then India has been successful in launching medium-weight satellites for overseas agencies. Initially ISRO started carrying third-party satellites atop PSLV rockets as co-passengers of its own remote sensing/earth observation satellites.
In 2007 ISRO for the first time launched an Italian satellite - Agile - as a standalone for a fee.
India has earned a revenue of $17.17 million and euro 32.28 million by launching 35 foreign satellites till date, parliament was told recently by V. Narayanasamy, Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office.
"Some customers paid in dollars and some in euros and hence we are giving it separately," an ISRO official said.

First Indian navigation satellite for IRNSS to be launched on June 12

The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System, IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven satellites of the IRNSS constellation, will be launched next month.

K Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), said the IRNSS would be launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota on June 12 at 1:01 am.

The Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) is an autonomous regional satellite navigation system being developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) which would be under complete control of the Indian government. The requirement of such a navigation system is driven by the fact that access to Global Navigation Satellite Systems, GPS, is not guaranteed in hostile situations. The IRNSS would provide two services, with the Standard Positioning Service open for civilian use and the Restricted Service, encrypted one, for authorised users (military).

The full constellation is planned to be realised in 2014. The IRNSS will help terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation services, along with disaster and fleet management. 

These satellites are positioned in suitable geostationary and inclined geosynchronous orbits to provide regional coverage over India and its surrounding neighbours. 

They are also equipped with high-precision atomic clocks, and continuously transmit navigation signals to users.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

INS Arihant nuke reactor to be activated in 2-3 weeks

Moving towards completing its nuclear triad, India will activate the atomic reactor on-board the indigenous nuclear submarine INS Arihant in the "next two to three weeks" paving way for its operational deployment by the Navy soon. 

"The nuclear reactor on-board the INS Arihant would be made critical (activated) in next two to three weeks," DRDO chief VK Saraswat told PTI here on Saturday. 

Nuclear triad is the ability to fire nuclear-tipped missiles from land, air and sea. He said after the nuclear reactor is activated, the agencies concerned can work towards readying the warship for operational deployments soon. 

INS Arihant has been undergoing trials at Navy's key submarine base in Vishakhapatnam and would be launched for sea trials after the nuclear reactor goes critical. 

The DRDO has also readied a medium-range nuclear missile BO-5 for being deployed on the Arihant and its last developmental trial was held on January 27 off the coast of Vishakhapatnam. 

The nuclear submarine will help India achieve the capability of going into high seas without the need to surface the vessel for long durations. 

Conventional diesel-electric submarines have to come up on surface at regular intervals for charging the cells of the vessel. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Facts about Nirbhay

Here are 10 must-know points about India's Nirbhay:

  1. It is a sub-sonic cruise missile. It blasts off like a rocket, but then unlike a missile, it turns into an aircraft. Unlike other ballistic missiles like the Agni,Nirbhay has wings and pronounced tail fins. 

  2. In early flight after launch, the rocket motor falls off and the small wings get deployed. 

  3. At this point a gas turbine engine kicks in and it becomes like a full aircraft, explains P S Krishnan, Director, Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore. 

India successfully test-fires sub-sonic cruise missile Nirbhay

India on Tuesday successfully test fired cruise missile Nirbhay from the Interim Test Range (ITR) in Chandipur in Odisha. Nirbhay, which has a range of 1000 km, was fired at 11:55 am from a mobile launcher and hit a pre-designed target set in the sea. The two-stage sub sonic missile can travel at a speed of 0.7 Mach.

This is the first time that India has test-fired its indigenously developed medium range sub-sonic cruise missile. "The missile blasted off from a mobile launcher positioned in the launch pad 3 of the ITR at about 11:54 am," defence sources said.

The maiden launch developmental trial of the sophisticated missile was carried out at Chandipur, about 15 km from here, in the presence of top defence scientists and senior officials.

The surface-to-surface missile has the capability of being launched from land, sea and air, they said, adding Nirbhay has good loitering capability, good control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth features.

Nirbhay was developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory based in Bangalore. India has the technology of super-sonic missile like BrahMos which is jointly developed by India and Russia.

BrahMos has the striking range of 290 km. In the early morning, the Balasore district administration temporarily shifted 453 families, comprising 2,586 adult members and 698 children, residing within two km radius of the Launch pad-3 at the ITR to nearby shelter places during the test launch of the missile as a safety measures, said a district revenue officer here.

For this temporary shift of the families they were compensated, he said.

Monday, February 25, 2013

PSLV-20 successfully puts seven satellites in orbit

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched Indo-French satellite 'SARAL' from the spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh on Monday. 

The satellite aimed at oceanographic studies along with six foreign mini and micro satellites onboard ISRO's workhorse rocket PSLV was launched from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 6.01 pm and successfully placed into orbit .It was initially slated for blast-off at 5.56 pm local time. 

President Pranab Mukherjee was also present at the mega launch.He witnessed the first of the 10 space missions planned by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) for 2013 and also the country's 101th space mission. 

The other dignitaries who witnessed the successful launch were Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L.Narasimhan, Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office V. Narayanasamy. 

With a rich orange flame at its tail and a plume of white fume, the rocket ascended towards the evening skies amidst the resounding cheers of ISRO scientists and a media team assembled at the launch centre. 

People perched atop nearby buildings too happily clapped as PSLV-C20 went up towards the heavens. 

Mukherjee congratulated the scientists. "Delighted to witness the remarkable launch of the PSLV. I congratulate ISRO for successfully executing the mission," he said. 

Exuding happiness, ISRO Chairman K.Radhakrishnan said: "It's a successfull launch." 

The 59-hour countdown for the launch commenced at 6.56 AM Saturday. 

This is the 23rd mission of PSLV, which has an impeccable record of 21 consecutive successful flights. This is the ninth time ISRO is using the 'core alone' variant of the rocket. 

The 668.5 kgs and 44.4 metres tall rocket had a lift off mass of 229.7 tonnes. Besides SARAL, it would put into orbit two micro-satellites UniBRITE and BRITE from Austria and AAUSAT3 from Denmark and STRaND from United Kingdom as also one micro-satellite (NEOSSat) and one mini-satellite (SAPPHIRE) from Canada. 

ISRO had initially planned to launch SARAL on December 12 last year but postponed it to carry out additional tests to "address technical issues to ensure reliability". 

The ISRO-built SARAL is a 410-kg satellite with payloads -- Argos and Altika -- from French space agency CNES for study of ocean parameters towards enhancing the understanding of the ocean state conditions which are otherwise not covered by the in-situ measurements. 

In view of the expected presence of the President, the Satish Dhawan Space Centre has been put under a thick net of security, officials said. 

SARAL will provide data products to operational and research user communities, in support of marine meteorology and sea state forecasting; operational oceanography; seasonal forecasting; climate monitoring; ocean, earth system and climate research, the officials said. 

Altimeter (Altika) would help study the sea surface heights while Argos payload is a satellite-based data collection platform. 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Indigenous multi-barrel rocket launcher - Pinala successfully test fired

Pinaka, the country’s indigenously developed multi-barrel rocket launcher (MBRL) weapon system, was successfully test fired from a defence base at Chandipur-on-sea, about 15 km from in Balasore, today. 
The trial was conducted by the personnel of Armament research and Development Establishment (ARDE) at the Proof and Experimental Establishment (PXE) firing point-2 at Chandipur as part of a routine test exercise, defence sources said.
Pinaka weapon system. Image courtesy PIB
Pinaka weapon system. Image courtesy PIB
Pinaka, which underwent several tough tests since 1995, has already been inducted into the armed forces.
“These are routine trials and some more rockets are likely to be tested tomorrow,” they said.
“Four rounds of rocket test were successfully carried out today,” said a defence official adding the MBRL, capable of acting as a force-multiplier, can gradually replace the current artillery system. 
The sophisticated Pinaka is an weapon system aimed at supplementing the existing artillery gun at a range beyond 30 km. Its quick reaction time and high rate of fire gives an edge to the army during low-intensity war-like situation, he said. 
The unguided rocket system is meant to neutralise bigger geographical area with rapid salvo of rockets. The Pinaka weapon system has a strike range of 40 km and can fire a salvo of 12 rockets in
44 seconds. Since one salvo each of 12 rockets from a battery of six launchers could neutralise a target area of 3.9 square km at a time, the Pinaka can be used to destroy large geographical areas like enemy troop concentration, communication centres, and air terminal complexes and gun/rocket locations.
One salvo each (12 rockets) from the battery of six launchers can neutralise at a time a target area of 3.9 sq km, the sources said. 
The system’s capability to incorporate several types of warheads makes it deadly for the enemy as it can even destroy their solid structures and bunkers, they added. 

Mangalyaan - The Mars mission : Some Facts

Some facts on Mars mission

Spacecraft facts:

  • Its main engine generates 440 Newtons of thrust.
  • Launch mass: 1350 kg.
  • It bears a single solar panel, 1.4 by 1.8 meters, producing 750W at Mars. [Note: This doesn't jibe with the single image that I have managed to find of the orbiter, posted below; that one appears to have a three-section panel, with each section possibly 1.4 by 1.8 meters. I can't explain the discrepancy.]
  • For attitude control it has four reaction wheels, eight 22-Newton thrusters.
  • Those are mostly pretty similar to Chandrayaan-1, except for the size of the solar panel. Chandrayaan-1 had a single 2.15-by-1.8-meter panel that generated 750W at the Moon. My guess is that the diagram below is correct and that the Mars spacecraft has a single solar array consisting of three panels 1.4 by 1.8 meters each, which would, together, manage to produce similar power at Mars that the single, larger panel did at the Moon. 
  • Five instruments have been selected, including: 
    • A color camera 
    • A Thermal Infrared Imaging System 
    • A Lyman-alpha photometer 
    • An Exospheric Neutral Composition Analyzer 
    • A Methane Sensor 
  • The engineering model is complete, and the flight model should be completed in March. 
  • ISRO expects instruments to be delivered in March for integration beginning in April. 
  • Launch to Earth orbit will take place "some time in October." 
  • The spacecraft will depart Earth orbit on November 26 and arrive at Mars on September 22, 2014.

India to launch sub-sonic missile, Nirbhay, next month

India would flight test sub-sonic, medium range cruise missile Nirbhay, next month, a key defence official said today.

File:Nibhay Cruise Missile.png
Nirbhay is being developed by Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE), a Defence Research and Development Organisation lab based here, V K Saraswat, Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister, told a press conference here.

"This is in the final stage of integration and we expect to launch it next month", Saraswat, also Secretary in the Department of Defence (R&D) and DRDO Director General, said.

He said Nirbhay has good loitering capability, good control and guidance, high degree of accuracy in terms of impact and very good stealth features.

ADE Director P S Krishnan said Nirbhay would be launched from Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Orissa.

Nirbhay will be a all-weather low-cost medium-range cruise missile with stealth and high accuracy. The missile will have a range of 750km, which will be increased later. It will weighing about one tonne and will have a lenght of 6 metres. It will carry a ring laser gyroscope for high-accuracy navigation and a radio altimeter for the height determination. It will be capable of being launched from multiple platforms on land, sea and air and shall be inducted into Indian Navy, Army, and Air Force. In particular, Nirbhay will be adapted for the Indo/Russian Su-30MKI. It was reported in May 2010 that the missile will be capable of carrying nuclear warheads

Sunday, January 27, 2013

ISRO plans 58 space missions during 12th Five Year Plan

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has submitted a plan for 58 space missions to be undertaken as a part of 12th Five Year Plan, 2012-17.

A plan outlay of Rs 39,750 crore in 12th Five Year Plan period has been provisionally earmarked under the Plan budget for space programme. During the current year 2012-13, a sum of Rs 5,615 crore has been allocated and the amount spent up to end October, 2012 is Rs 1,871.53 crore.

The missions planned for 12th Five Year plan includes 33 satellite missions and 25 launch vehicles missions. The mission includes: SARAL, CARTOSAT-2C, CARTOSAT-2D, RESOURCESAT-2A, OCEANSAT-3, CARTOSAT-3, GISAT, GSAT-9, GSAT-10, GSAT-15, GSAT-16, GSAT-17, GSAT-18, GSAT-14, GSAT-11S, GSAT-6, GSAT-6A, GSAT-7, GSAT-Ka, GSAT-11, GSAT-19E, IRNSS-1, INSAT-3D, IRNSS-2, IRNSS-3, IRNSS-4, IRNSS-5, IRNSS-6, IRNSS-7, ASTROSAT, MARS ORBITER, CHANDRAYAAN-2, ADITYA, PSLV-C20, PSLV-C21, PSLV-C22, PSLV C23, PSLV C24, PSLV C25, PSLV C26, PSLV C27, PSLV C28, PSLV C29, PSLV C30, PSLV C31, PSLV C32, PSLV C33, PSLV C34, PSLV C35, PSLV-C36, GSLV D5, GSLV D6, GSLV F8, GSLV F09, GSLV F10, GSLV F11, GSLV-Mk III-X1, and GSLV Mk III D1.

Underwater BO5 ballistic missile tested successfully

India today successfully tested the underwater BO5 ballistic missile. With this the country is a step closer to having a nuclear triad with land version as well as air based versions tested successfully. The missile was launched from an approximate depth of about 50 metres, simulating exactly the conditions as would prevail during an operational launch from India's indigenously made nuclear-powered submarine INS Arihant. After emerging from the water, the missile followed a copy book track of its trajectory and hit its target about six minutes after launch in a very precise manner. The trajectory was tracked using several cameras and radars specially deputed for this launch.

This is the fourteenth consecutively successful launch of this potent weapons system which has till now always been done in complete secrecy. This was the last developmental launch and now the weapons system is ready to be integrated with the Indian submarines, says AK Chakrabarty, the man who designed and perfected this naval missile system and is also the director of the Defence Research and Development Laboratory, Hyderabad. 

“The medium range K-5 ballistic missile was test fired successfully today from an underwater pontoon and all parameters of the test firing were met,” DRDO chief V K Saraswat told PTI from the undisclosed test area.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

India developing AWACS system

India is developing a Rs 6,000 crore Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) programme, scientific adviser to the defence minister, Dr V.K. Saraswat, informed the media.

“The AWACS will be able to penetrate into enemy territory for longer distances, not physically, but by way of radars and electronic warfare systems. The Government of India has given its clearance for the programme and the DRDO has begun to work on it,” said Dr Saraswat, who is also the director-general of DRDO.

Asked what benefits AWACS offer as compared to the AEW&C system that India currently uses, Dr Saraswat said that a combination of both systems is used all over the world. However, AWACS gives better coverage -- 360 degrees as compared to 270 degrees by AEW&C. The AWACS can fly at higher altitudes, for longer distances and for longer durations, he said.

Two AEW&C aircraft will be ready this year and all the three aircraft that the Indian Air Force has ordered will be delivered by 2014, Dr Saraswat added.

The first made-in-Bengaluru missile, Nir­bhay, is ready to be launched next month. Dr Saraswat said that the long-range, all-weather, subsonic cruise missile was in the final stage of integration and has very good stealth features. “Nirbhay will be flight tested next month from Chandipur in Orissa,” said P. S. Krishnan, director, Aeronautical Develop­ment Establishment, DRDO.

The DRDO has also conducted a flight test of a totally indigenous guided bomb, Dr Saraswat mentioned. “The bomb can fly for 40-50 km in a guided mode and can be released from an aircraft. It is totally indigenous.”

The press conference also saw the DRDO's first public admission that the indigenous Kaveri engine will not power the light combat aircraft (LCA), Tejas. Kaveri was being developed with the aim of powering the LCA.

The first LCA will be delivered by HAL in mid-2013, and four LCAs will be delivered every year from then on.Dr Saraswat mentioned that according to the Economic Analysis Wing of the Government of India, the Self Reliance Index of the DRDO has increased to 55% from the earlier 30% and the DRDO currently has orders worth Rs 1.42 lakh crore.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Indian Space Programme in 2012: A Review

By all means, 2012 can be considered a watershed year for the Indian space programme. The programme had begun modestly in November 1963 with the launch of a 9-kg sounding rocket from a modest facility in the fishing hamlet of Thumba on the outskirts of Thiruvananthapuram. 2012 saw the 100th space mission of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). On September 9, 2012, the four stage workhorse PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) orbited the 720-kg French remote sensing satellite Spot-6 along with the 15-kg Japanese Proiteres probe as a piggy back payload on commercial terms, and in the process helped ISRO complete the saga of a “space century”. The significance of the mission lay in the fact that the PSLV, considered a highly reliable space vehicle, launched the heaviest ever satellite of an international customer on commercial terms.
The PSLV has so far launched 29 satellites for international customers on commercial terms. Its versatility lies in the fact that it can launch satellites into a variety of orbits. But then ISRO’s continued dependence on a single operational launch vehicle in the form of the PSLV implies that heavier class home grown INSAT/GSAT series of communications satellites are hoisted into space by means of procured launch services. Not surprisingly then the 3,400-kg GSAT-10 satellite carrying 30 communications transponders and a payload designed to support theGagan satellite based, civilian aircraft navigation and management system was launched by the Araine-5 vehicle in September 2012. The continued dependence on Ariane-5 for deploying the heavier class Indian communications satellites not only implies a huge foreign exchange outgo but also makes for a far from sound strategic approach. For, in the context of the rapidly shifting global geopolitical dynamics, the timely accessibility to a procured launch service could become a difficult and challenging proposition in the years ahead.
Indeed, the failure of ISRO to qualify the home grown cryogenic engine stage, meant to power the three-stage Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), has forced India to go in for commercial launch services to get its heavier class communications satellites off the ground. The long delay in mastering the complexities of the cryogenic propulsion system based on liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen mix implies that there are serious challenges ahead in putting in operational mode the GSLV-MKII capable of placing a 2.5-tonne class satellite and the high performance GSLV-MKIII capable of deploying a 4-tonne class satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbits. The failure of the two GSLV missions during 2010—one with a home grown upper cryogenic stage and the other with a Russian origin cryogenic engine stage—proved to be a setback for the Indian launch vehicle development programme.
Though ISRO had planned a GSLV-MKII launch with an indigenous upper cryogenic stage during 2012, it stood postponed to 2013. The qualification of a 400-tonne plus GSLV is critical for ISRO to sustain some of its high profile projects including the Chandrayaan-II mission slated for take off sometime during the middle of this decade. The Chandrayaan-II mission to the moon, which would feature an Indian orbiter and rover and a Russian lander, is a follow up to India’s maiden lunar probe Chandrayaan-1 launched in 2008.
Nevertheless, the successful launch of India’s fully home grown microwave earth imaging satellite RISAT-1 by means of a PSLV flight in April 2012 stood out as a sort of achievement for ISRO. For, very few countries have built up the technological expertise to engineer an all weather remote sensing satellite like RISAT-1, which is capable of collecting data even under conditions of cloud, darkness, haze and dust storm. RISAT-1 can be harnessed for both civilian and defence applications. It can be used for disaster prediction and monitoring agricultural dynamics as well as for surveillance by the armed forces.
Though ISRO had hinted at a couple of space missions from the space port in Sriharikota island on India’s eastern coast before the end of 2012, these did not materialize. In particular, the launch of the Indo-French research satellite Saral by means of the core alone version of PSLV—without the usual six strap on boosters attached to the first stage—originally planned for the end of 2012 was postponed to the first quarter of 2013. ISRO has cited technical glitches as the reason for the postponement of this space mission. The 400-kg Saral built at the ISRO Satellite Centre in Bangalore is designed to monitor the circulation of oceanic currents and measurement of sea surface heights. This PSLV mission will also launch five small payloads of international customers on commercial terms.
ISRO also plans to launch the first of the seven satellites constituting the space segment of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) by means of a PSLV flight sometime in 2013. IRNSS makes for great strategic sense as it would free India from its dependence on the American GPS system whose specialized services at times are difficult to access. The Indian defence forces would stand to benefit from IRNSS for purposes ranging from location identification to launching precision weapons including long range missiles with a high degree of accuracy.
However, the highpoint of ISRO’s march into space would be the plan to launch India’s Mars probe in November 2013 when the earth moves closest to the Red planet. This is the earliest launch window available for the Indian Mars probe. The launch of the Indian Mars orbiter by means of an augmented version of the PSLV would make India the sixth country in the world to send a mission to the Red Planet. The Indian Mars mission will focus on life, climate, geology, origin, evolution and sustainability of life forms on the planet. ISRO considers the Rs. 4500-million Indian Mars probe, to be called Mangalyaan, as a major technology build up exercise for accelerating India’s forays into deep space. After the accomplishment of the Mars mission, ISRO plans to send probes to Venus and the asteroid belt.
But then India’s much talked of plan for a human space mission, which is yet to receive final clearance from the Government of India, has been kept in the backburner. Even as ISRO has done some preliminary ground work for identifying the cutting edge technologies for this high profile project, the country is yet to build up ”the infrastructure and capability” robust enough for this ”complex and challenging mission.” According to ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan, “A human space flight is a complex mission requiring a host of things such as a heavy rocket, re-entry vehicle, space capsule, space suit, environmental control, life support system and an escape system for the crew… As of now, we don’t have a programme to launch a human space flight over the next five years.”
In the ultimate analysis, both the planetary missions and human flight represent a dilution of the original philosophy with which the Indian space programme took off. In the late 1960s, Dr. Vikram Sarabhai, the architect of the Indian space programme, had elaborated:
“There are some who question the relevance of space activities in a developing nation. To us, there is no ambiguity of purpose. We do not have the fantasy of competing with the economically advanced nations in the exploration of the moon or the planets or manned spaceflight. But we are convinced that if we are to play a meaningful role nationally, and in the comity of nations, we must be second to none in the application of advanced technologies to the real problems of man and society.”
In this context, ISRO points out that the societal commitment of the Indian space programme continues to be in an expansion mode even as efforts are on for forays into deep space.
In the context of fast expanding space missions resulting in a growing constellation of satellites, there is a concern in India over the safety of its space assets. This concern assumed serious dimensions in early 2007 when China successfully carried out an anti-satellite test followed by a well conceived plan for mastering the techniques of a full fledged space war. Of course, both ISRO and DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organisation) have made it clear that India has all the resources required to engineer an anti-satellite system to take on a “rogue satellite”. In the aftermath of the successful flight test of India’s long range Agni-V missile in April 2012, DRDO chief V.K. Saraswat had noted that the “Agni-V launch has opened a new era. Apart from adding a new dimension to our strategic defence, it has ushered in fantastic opportunities in building anti satellite weapons.”
By all means India’s space weaponization programme, the realization of which is subject to the approval of the political leadership of the county, would stand to benefit enormously from the technological advances made by ISRO and DRDO. Not long ago, India’s Defence Minister A.K. Antony had wondered as to how long India would ”remain committed to the policy of the non weaponization of space even as counter space systems are emerging in India’s neighbourhood (read China).”But then India, which is officially committed to the peaceful uses of outer space, will find it difficult to go ahead with plans for developing the building blocks for engaging in a full fledged space war.