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Year in space: Isro gears up for busy 2019 after successful 2018

The year 2018 also saw some important initiatives, including bringing in private entities to build satellites

T E Narasimhan  |  Chennai 

ISRO
FILE PHOTO: Sriharikota: ISRO's GSLV-F08 carrying GSAT-6A communication satellite blasts off into orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, in Sriharikota on Thursday | Photo: PTI

The year 2019 will be the busiest yet for the (Isro), with double the number of launches compared to 2018 — 32 to this year’s 17. The missions scheduled include a third-generation remote sensing satellite, a third-generation ocean satellite and a couple of communication satellites.

Isro PSLV-C-42

Sep 16, 2018: Isro’s PSLV-C-42, carrying two satellites from the UK — NovaSAR and S1-4, lifts off from Sriharikota

ALSO READ: After GSLV success, Isro to place heavier satellites onboard launch vehicle

The most complex would be Chandrayaan-2, the country’s second lunar exploration mission after Chandrayaan-1. January 3 seems the likely date. Another important mission would be launch of the two-satellite Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS), of which one will be launched in 2019. It will maintain continuous communication with India's remote sensing/earth observation satellites and with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (GSLV Mk-III) that is planned to carry three Indian astronauts to space in 2022.

Isro PSLV-C40

Jan 12, 2018: Isro’s PSLV-C40, carrying cartosat series, along with 30 other satellites, lifts off from Sriharikota

In launch vehicles, Isro expects to fly its first small rocket with a carrying capacity of 500-700 kg next year.

Today, Isro has two operational launchers, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The next variant of GSLV is GSLV Mk-III, with indigenous high-thrust cryogenic engines and stage, having the capability of launching the four-tonne class of communication satellites.

ALSO READ: Bahrain likely to ink pact with ISRO for training, research on space tech

Isro GSLV-MkIII

Nov 14, 2018: Isro’s GSLV-MkIII-D2 mission, carrying high-throughput communication satellite GSAT-29

The year 2018 also saw some important initiatives, including bringing in private entities to build satellites. The UR Rao Satellite Centre has signed work order contracts with three different vendors, to help in the assembly, integration and testing for satellites. The companies are Alpha Design Technologies, and These firms will build 27 satellites, to be launched before 2023. These would comprise seven communication, 12 Earth observation, five navigation and three science satellites.

ALSO READ: Isro to go to Venus by 2023 after Mars success, human spaceflight plans

This year, Isro launched a remote sensing earth observation satellite in the Cartosat-2 series, a GSAT-6A communication satellite, eight navigation satellite to join the IRNSS Space Segment, GSAT-29 for communication, HysIS for earth observation and from the GSAT-11 Mission in the Ariane-5 launch vehicle from France, for communication. The latest was the GSAT-7A satellite, launched on December 19.

Isro GSAT-7A

Dec 19, 2018: Isro’s latest communication satellite GSAT-7A launched on-board GSLV-F11 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre off the coast of Odisha

Many beginnings

Highlights of 2018

  • PM announces manned mission in 2022
  • Isro tests space crew escape module and other technologies for the mission
  • Space agency crosses the milestone of lifting and putting into orbit over 250 foreign satellites bringing the total to 269
  • Decision taken to transfer lithium ion cell battery technology to industry, 14 firms shortlisted

Highlights for 2019

  • Year will start with Rs 8-billion Chandrayaan-2, India's second moon mission, slated for January
  • Over 32 missions — satellites and rockets — have been planned for the year
  • 8 PSLVs, 2 GSLV Mk II and 2 GSLV Mk III, 2 SSLV and 1 test for Gaganyaan project will take off

First Published: Mon, December 24 2018. 00:13 IST
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