Sunday, December 5, 2010

Isro signs Rs 500 crore contract with Arianespace. Russia space programme suffers a setback

        Two indigenous communication satellites, Gsat-8 and Gsat-10, each weighing around three tonnes will be launched by Arianespace in 2011 and 2012.

        A Rs 500-crore agreement to this effect was signed by Isro and the Arianespace during the visit of the French President, Nicolay Sarkozy, to Bangalore on Saturday. Both satellites have the Gagan payload which will be used for satellite aviation navigation.

        India's dependence on Arianespace will continue till the advanced version of the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) designated as GSLV Mark 3 becomes fully operational. This rocket, now under development, will have the capability to launch communication satellites weighing four tonnes. The current version of GSLVs can place in the geo stationary orbit satellites weighing about two tonnes.

        As mentioned by ``Beyond Moon and Mars,'' in an earlier blog, this month there is a GSLV launch which will carry the Gsat-5p communication satellite. The rocket will be powered with a Russian cryogenic engine. After this there is just one more Russian engine left with Isro, which means just one more launch of GSLV till the indigenous cryogenic engine is declared operational. It may be recalled that the maiden trial of the Indian engine on a GSLV on April 15,2010 was a failure.

        If the indigenous cryogenic engine is not ready, the question then is will it upset the home-made satellite launch sked?  Quite a few are in queue. If Isro is unable to launch the GSLVs because of a non availability of the cryogenic engine, it is possible that the space agency will have to depend upon Arianespace to carry its communication satellites---even those weighing less than four tonnes.


       The Russian space programme suffered a major setback on Sunday after the Proton rocket carrying three navigation satellites under Glonass system fell into the sea, 1500 kms off Honalalu, according to a space website,

       According to the website, the Proton rocket which lifted off around 4 p.m. (IST) on Sunday veered off its flight path and went into a wrong trajectory. Consequently, the rocket failed to place the satellites in their intended orbit. states that once separated from the Proton rocket, a second stage booster rocket with the three satellites should have put them in orbit about 20 kms above the earth.

       Russian PM, Vladmir Putin, has been quoted as saying that a total of seven new Glonass satellites would be launched which would ensure coverage of the entire planet making the total number of satellites 28


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