India plans to launch 10 satellites every year

By Fakir Balaji, IANS,

Bangalore : Indian space scientists and engineers are bracing up to launch an average of 10 satellites per year to meet the rising demand for various space applications, including communications and remote sensing, a top space scientist said.

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“We are planning to launch 10 satellites per year, beginning fiscal 2010-11. We have a series of satellites and launch vehicles at various stages of preparation,” Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told IANS.

Though the state-run space agency was to launch five satellites in this fiscal (2009-10), it could launch only three — Oceansat-2, Risat-2 (radar imaging satellite) in association with Israeli Aerospace Industries, and Anusat, a micro-satellite. Oceansat-2 also carried six nano-satellites of foreign countries as additional payloads.

The launch of two satellites — GSAT-4 and Cartosat-2B — got delayed due to unavoidable reasons, one of them being further flight duration tests of 800 seconds (13.3 minutes) conducted for the indigenous cryogenic engine to be used for the first time in the heavy rocket GSLV-D3 (geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle).

Hitherto, the space agency used Russian cryogenic engines in heavy rockets for launching above two-tonne class spacecraft.

“We have concluded our review meetings to launch satellites for communications and remote sensing. In the immediate, we are launching one satellite in April and another in May. Our target date for launch of GSAT-4 is mid-April and we are working towards it,” Radhakrishnan said.

The space agency is set to keep the window open April 15-19 for launching the 2.2-tonne GSAT-4 onboard GSLV-D3 from its Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 80 km north-east of Chennai.

The space centre is scheduled to move the 440-tonne rocket to the second launch pad at the spaceport April 7-8 with the technology demonstrator satellite (GSAT-4).

“Early May, we plan to launch the polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV-C15) to carry Cartosat-2B, an Algerian satellite, and two micro satellites — Youthsat from Canada and Studsat built by college students from Karnataka,” the chairman said.

The GSAT-4 will be launched into the geo-stationary transfer orbit (GTO) using the cryogenic upper stage of the GSLV-D3.

“As an advanced communication satellite, the GSAT-4 will have multibeam Ka-band regenerative transponders. It will also carry GPS (global positioning system) augmented navigation system in C, L1 and L5 bands as an additional payload,” Radhakrishnan, a rocket scientist, noted.

As part of its advance preparation, ISRO is also working on launching a Resourcesat-2, Risat-1 and Mega-Tropiques in the remote sensing area during the later part of this year.

“In the communications area, we are lining up three heavy satellites — GSAT-5 and GSAT-6 from Sriharikota and GSAT-8P onboard the Ariane launch vehicle from Korou in French Guayana — by this year-end or early 2011,” Radhakrishna said.

ISRO plans to put up Hylas satellite of its commercial arm Antrix before March 2011.

Noting that demand for multiple satellites in communications and remote sensing areas would increase in the coming years to meet the diverse needs of a booming economy, the chairman said the space agency was preparing to launch 10-12 satellites a year hereafter.

“In fiscal 2011-12 too, we plan to launch about 10 satellites, including Saral, Insat-3D, GSAT-9, GSAT-12, GSAT-10P, IRNSS 1& 2 (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System), Astrosat and Aditya-1,” Radhakrishnan pointed out.

ISRO uses the Indian National Satellite (INSAT) series for telecommunication, television broadcasting and meteorological services and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for resources monitoring and management.

The PSLV is used for launching remote sensing satellites into polar orbits and GSLV for launching communication and meteorological satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbit.

“For launching four-tonne class satellites into GTO, we are developing GSLV-Mark III. We have already carried the static testing of the advance rocket’s solid booster, which will be the third largest of its kind in the world,” he added.