Kshitij PujariApr 17, 2018 12:08:09 IST
After having successfully launched the 8th navigation satellite as part of India's own GPS network called the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) this month, ISRO seems to have a busy year ahead of them. As per ISRO Chairman K Sivan, the space agency has packed in nine more important missions for the next eight months.
If this holds true then ISRO would be averaging a mission a month and that in itself would be a remarkable achievement. ISRO has already made three launches this year and has used both the GSLV and PSLV rockets at its disposal. "We have a lot more missions on the anvil. In the next eight months, we are going to have nine missions. We are going to have both GSLV and PSLV missions. Along with that (launches) we have technology demonstration for future missions as well," said K Sivan. Some of the future missions that ISRO plans in 2018 include, Chandrayaan-2, GSAT-11, GSLV-Mk3-D2 / GSAT-29 and GSAT-7A.
ISRO has already launched the GSAT-6A communications satellite on 29 March 2018. However, since 1 April the satellite has gone incommunicado and it seems as of now ISRO is no closer to gaining control of the satellite. The next communication satellite to be launched would be the GSAT-11 and ISRO says that the launch will happen in the second half of the year.
As per K Sivan, this would be the heaviest satellite ever created by ISRO and has confirmed that the weight would be in excess of 5 tonnes.
The GSAT-11, as per ISRO, is a "multibeam high throughput communication satellite operating in Ka and Ku-bands". The payload on the satellite includes Ka x Ku-band forward link transponders and Ku x Ka-band return link transponders. The satellite will be launched aboard ESA's (European Space Agency) Ariane rocket from the launch facility in Kourou, French Guiana.
Since GSAT is a geosynchronous satellite, its orbit will also be geosynchronous, which is about 35,000 km from the Earth's surface. It will also be the last satellite that will be launched by a foreign space agency.
GSLV-Mk3-D2 / GSAT-29
Another of India's indigenously developed communication satellite called the GSAT-29 will launch in the first half of 2018. This would mean that we can expect the launch in 2-3 months. As per ISRO, the GSAT-29 is configured around ISRO’s Enhanced I-3K Bus and it will be launched aboard the GSLV-MkIII rocket. The GSAT-29 will be carrying a Ka x Ku multi-beam and optical communication payloads for the first time. ISRO has directed this mission to bridge the digital divide in rural parts of India.
10 years ago ISRO launched successfully India's first mission to the moon in the form of Chandrayaan-1. Though initially a success, ISRO lost contact with the satellite on 29 August 2009 and it was later located by NASA using its Earth-based tracking system. This time around ISRO plans to do things a bit differently. The Chandrayaan-2 is no doubt ISRO's biggest mission of the year and the agency will be looking to ensure that the predecessor's fate does not fall on this one.
The Chandrayaan-2 will have an orbiter, a lander, and a rover whereas the Chandrayaan-1 only had a lunar orbiter. The Chandrayaan-2 is also a completely indigenous mission, meaning that it was made 100 percent at home. As per ISRO, after reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the rover will separate from the orbiter and land on the lunar surface.
The semi-autonomous rover will roam around the landing site and collect data samples from the lunar surface and send back the data for useful analysis of the lunar soil. The Chandrayaan-2 weighs 3,290 kg and the orbiter on it will be put into the lunar surface for remote sensing operations around the moon. The mission is planned for the second half of 2018 around October and it is expected that ISRO will use the GSLV-F10 for launching.
GSAT-7A like all the other GSAT satellites will be used for communication purposes. However, the GSAT-7A will be solely used for the Indian Air Force. To recall India has already launched the GSAT-7 satellite which is exclusively used for communications by the Indian Navy. The GSAT-7A will give the Indian Air Force the capability to interlink ground radar stations, ground airbase and, Airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft. The satellite is expected to be launched aboard the GSLV-Mk2 rocket in the second half of 2018.
As of right now, ISRO has detailed about these four missions on its website. However, we can be sure that ISRO will be updating the country of the remaining five missions that are happening this year. We can be sure that both the PSLV and GSLV launch vehicles will be involved in the launches.
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