Sunday, January 23, 2011

Action at Sriharikota

      If one goes by the statement of Isro chairman, R.Radhakrishnan, last week at an international conference on Contemprorary Trends in Optics and Optoelectronics at Thiruvanathanapuram, Sriharikota will see action in the next three months. There will be one launch each month between February and April.

      In his presidential address he said: ``The coming months are going to be eventful with three major milestones to be achieved.''

      The three are:-

      * A Pslv (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle--PSLV-C-16) is already assembled at Shar (Sriharikota High Altitude Range). Resourcesat-2 and YouthSat are getting ready for shipment to Shar. Both these satellites carry a host of advance optical payloads, he said. What about Singapore's X-Sat? Even if it does not have an optical payload, atleast a referance could have been made about it.

       * Pslv-C-17 assembly would commence soon for a Geo stationary transfer orbit mission to launch GSat-12, a communication satellite. This will be the third time a Pslv will fly on a GTO mission; the first was when it placed in orbit Kalpana-1 in September 2002 and the second was during the Chandrayaan-1 flight in October 2008. . Infact the launch of Kalpana-1, a meteorological satellite, was described as a dry run for Chandrayaan-1.``This would be followed by a series of four Pslvs and flight testing of our Indian cryogenic stage after due tests on ground. Second static testing of S-200 is on the anvil,'' he told the participants at the conference.

      * Another communication satellite,Gsat-8 is getting ready for launch on board Ariane-5 in April-May 2011.  The launch will be from the European spaceport of Kourou.

      * Risat-1, a microwave remote sensing satellite, meteorological satellite, Insat-3d, communication satellites such as Gsat-7 and Gsat-10 and two Indo-French joint missions--Megha-Tropiques and Saral, ``are our commitment for next year. ``  ``We need to launch one of the Irness (Indian regional navigation satellite system) satellites by 2012 and gear up for launching Chandrayaan-2 by 2013. We are embarking on newer vistas, opened up by challenges in climate change studies, satellite navigation and national imperatives,'' he said.

     A significant remark in his presentation is that Isro has to gear up for launching the second Indian moon mission BY 2013. Please note he did not say in 2013 or indicate that it will be between 2013 and 2015. He has used the word BY which means that it could be even next year. Is this possible? ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM)''  feels it is doubtful considering the uncertaintly relating to the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

     Surprisingly, there is no mention of two other important missions. These are Astrosat, India's first dedicated astronomy satellite, and Aditya, the country's first mission to the sun. BMM will provide a detailed report about Aditya soon following an interaction with two scientists connected with this project at Calangute in Goa recently.

     Also he has made no committment about the launch of the advanced version of the Gslv-Mark 3 rocket which has the capability to place in orbit four tonne class of communication satellites.

     We look forward to the details about these missions soon.    

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