Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Some facts on Mars mission
- 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 would flight test sub-sonic, medium range cruise missile Nirbhay, next month, a key defence official said today.
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
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.
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 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
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.