India has an impressive array of achievements in the development of space technology for various applications. From a humble beginning with a small RH 75 rocket in the sixties to the successful launch of PSLV-D2 with 804 kg IRS-P2 in October, 1994, the Indian space programme has made remarkable progress through a well integrated, self-reliant programme. Eight Indian satellites are now in various stages of operation in the space. These are INSAT-1D, INSAT-2A, INSAT-2B, INSAT-2C, SROSS-C2, IRS-1B, IRS-P2 and IRS-1C. IRS-P3 when launched during 1996 will be the ninth satellite in the series.
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1995 was an eventful year for the Department of Space. INSAT-2C was successfully launched on December 7, 1995. It has got Ku-band and more powerful transponders to provide mobile satellite services and business communication. The launch of IRS-1C from Russia on December 28 was also successful. It has many advanced features providing better spatial resolution, additional special bands, stereoscopic imaging, wide field coverage and more frequent revisit capabilities. India’s position in world space programmes has gone up after the establishment of United Nations Asia Pacific Regional Centre for Space Education in India.
The Indian National Committee for Space Research (INCOSPAR) was formed by the Department of Atomic Energy in 1962 . The same year the work on establishing Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station (TERLS) was started. While the year 1965 saw the establishment of Space Science And Technology Centre, Thumba, the Satellite Telecommunication Centre was set up at Ahmedabad in 1967 . The first sounding rocket was launched from TERLS on November 21, 1963. The TERLS was dedicated to the United Nations on February 2, 1968 . The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) was formed under Department Of Atomic Energy on August 15, 1969.
The Government of India set up the Space Commission and the Department of Space (DOS) in 1972. In the seventies Indian Space Programme was formally organised in a self-reliant manner. Now the scope of space programme ranges from development of Space Launch Systems, sophisticated satellites, their operation in the orbit, to the conducting of extensive application-oriented research and execution of different missions. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plays a key role in the planning and execution of National Space activities.
The Indian space programme, having the objective of providing space-based services to the nation in a self-reliant manner, crossed an important milestone when the 283 tonne, 44 metre tall, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-D2), launched on October 15, 1994, successfully accomplished its mission by placing the 804 kg Indian remote sensing satellite, IRS-P2, in the intended polar sun-synchronous orbit. India has, thus, joined the exclusive group of just six nations in the world to achieve this multi-disciplinary, technologically complex feat.
Even as PSLV-D2 unequivocally demonstrated India’s capability to launch indigenously built remote sensing satellites from within the country, the mission has also proved, in flight, a number of systems which will be employed in the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), thus, bringing the country closer to achieve the capability for launching INSAT class of communication satellites as well.
During 1995 the INSAT-2C and IRS-1C have been launched successfully and commissioned in orbit . The next development flight of the vehicle PSLV-D3 is scheduled in 1996.
The fourth developmental flight of the Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV-D4) successfully achieved its mission on May 4, 1994 by placing the 113 kg SROSS-C2 scientific satellite in a near-earth orbit. With this success, all the objectives of ASLV project, including proving, in flight, a number of complex vehicle systems employed for PSLV and GSLV, have been fully realised.
Considerable progress has also been made in the development of GSLV with a number of advanced technologies having been qualified and fabrication of most of the vehicle hardware initiated. The successful development and qualification of the silicon phenolic throat for the GSLV liquid propellant engine is another significant achievement. The L-40 liquid propulsion stage of GSLV is now getting ready for qualification .
SCOPE OF SPACE PROGRAMMES
Space programme continues to support space science research in the country. The National Mesosphere – Stratosphere – Troposphere Radar Facility (NMRF) near Tirupati, has been fully operationalised with the commissioning of the remaining part of the antenna array and associated transmitters for measurements in the Mesospheric region. It is a versatile facility for the atmospheric scientists. Sounding rockets and balloon flights continue to be undertaken for several space science experiments. The detection of a few Gamma-ray bursts by SROSS-C satellite has given further fillip to such experiments.
Space Science research encompasses a wide spectrum of activities including study of cosmic rays, astronomical investigation using space and ground-based systems, study of meteorites and lunar samples and physical observations of sun. Another major branch of activity relates to the study of earth’s atmospheric system through rockets, balloons and orbiting space systems.
REMOTE SENSING APPLICATIONS
The remote sensing applications using IRS have proliferated into almost every facet of national development. The data is now used regularly for agricultural crop acreage and yield estimation, drought monitoring and assessment, flood mapping, land use and land cover mapping, wasteland management, water resources management, ocean/marine resources survey and management, mineral prospecting, forest resources survey and management, etc.
We have surpassed many developed nations in putting into use the satellite based remote sensing data. For example, IRS data is used for pre-harvest acreage and production estimation of all major Indian crops like wheat, rice and sorghum. Estimates of production of cotton, oil seeds, mulberry, etc. are also made using satellite data.
The data from IRS satellites is used for soil mapping, grassland mapping, forest survey, land use/land cover mapping, locating underground water resources, estimation of snow cover and snow melt/run-off, monitoring water level in reservoirs, environment monitoring, etc. The data has been extensively used for flood mapping and identifying flood-risk zones and for forecasting drought conditions. Satellite remote sensing is now used for identifying potential fish zones helping the fishermen in the coastal areas to increase the catch.
Twenty two states have established remote sensing applications centres, which are carrying out several application projects of relevance to their regions, besides participating in national level projects. The Department of Space is helping state remote sensing centres through review of progress , conducting regional workshops, providing funds on case- by- case basis and providing research and development support.
Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) Satellite
The launch of the first operational Indian Remote Sensing satellite, IRS-1A on March 17, 1988, on board a Soviet ‘Vostok’ rocket, ushered in a new era in the country’s resources survey and management system. The second satellite in the series, IRS-1B, identical to IRS-1A, was launched on August 29, 1991. IRS-1A and IRS-1B have become the mainstay of the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS) for effectively managing the country’s natural resources. IRS-P2, launched by India’s PSLV on October 15,1994 has joined IRS-1A and IRS-1B in enhancing the remote sensing services. IRS-1C has also been successfully launched on December 28, 1995 on board a Molniya rocket of Russia.
Satellite images have been used to study the earthquake in Maharashtra during September 1993, Satellite data shows three major lineaments intersecting just south of the Latur-Killari village and this trijunction of lineaments appear to coincide with the epicentre of the earthquake. Based on the nature and extent of damage to various structures as observed in the field and the information provided by the District Collectors, the isoseismal intensity contours have been drawn.
Application of IRS Satellites In Agriculture
What do the Satellite people know about agriculture? Officials in Agriculture Departments used to ask. Recently the Karnataka State Remote Sensing Technology Utilisation Centre (KSRSTUC) has given a befitting reply. It has wrapped up a satellite data-based study of Kolar District’s Gudibanda Taluka and prepared an action plan to turn the rocky, rain-starved and drought-prone environs into an agricultural oasis. It is a tiny example of the unique Integrated Mission for Sustainable Development (IMSD) which has been launched in 157 districts of our country. Now farmers of India have growing interest in harvesting the miracles of the IRS series of Remote Sensing Satellites.
IMSD aims at generating locale-specific prescriptions for development at micro-level using integrated analysis of the thematic maps generated using data from IRS Satellite, meteorological data and socio-economic information. Several States like Karnataka have set up their own Remote Sensing Application Centres. Efforts are being made to introduce courses on remote sensing in school and university curricula.
INSAT Revolutionises Telecommunication And Media
Indian National Satellite System (INSAT) besides revolutionising the telecommunication and TV broadcast scenario in our country, has improved the weather forecasting and is providing advance warning on disasters. About 150 telecommunication terminals are today operating under the INSAT network providing more than 4,000 two-way telephone channels along about 170 routes. Telegraphy services have been provided in the north-eastern region covering most of the inaccessible rural areas. The National Informatics Centre has set up over 600 micro-terminals. Many business houses now use the INSAT system for their corporate communication.
The two indigenously built multipurpose satellites, INSAT-2A launched in July 1992 and INSAT-2B launched in July 1993, as well as, INSAT-1D, the last of the INSAT-1 series of satellites launched in 1990, continue to perform well in orbit providing vital services for telecommunications, television broadcasting, meteorology, disaster warning and distress detection.
The successful launch of INSAT 2C on December 7, 1995 from Kourou, French Guyana and its commissioning in the orbit has added to INSAT series. It will provide mobile satellite services and business communication through newly introduced Ku-band transponders. More powerful C-band transponders for television programme will reach beyond the Indian boundaries. The work on the follow-on satellites in this series 2D and 2E has progressed further and are slated for launch in 1996-97 and 1997-98 respectively. These satellites will have additional spectral channel and improved coverage for meteorological payload.
INSAT has brought about a rapid expansion of the TV network in our country covering over 65 per cent of the land mass and over 80 per cent of our population. National TV network, regional services and metro channels have already become operational.
The INSAT network is extensively being used for educational purposes such as countrywide classrooms conducted by the University Grants Commission for two hours every day primarily meant for the university and college students, educational television programmes broadcast in the local languages for the benefit of the rural population and curriculum-based lectures broadcast by the Indira Gandhi National Open University. It is also used in continuing education for industrial workers, training of bank employees, training of block and village level extension agricultural workers and farmers, etc.
INSAT is helping us in improving weather forecasts by providing high resolution radio-metric imageries. More than a hundred unattended meteorological data collection platforms relay weather information through INSAT to a central meteorological data processing centre. INSAT is also providing disaster warning receivers installed along the cyclone-prone east coast of the country. These disaster warning systems have enabled evacuation of thousands of people well in advance of impending cyclones.
Aryabhatta, the first Indian satellite, was launched on April 19, 1975, by the erstwhile USSR Intercosmos rocket into a near -earth orbit.
Bhaskara-I&II , launched on June 7, 1979 and November 20, 1981, respectively, by the Intercosmos rockets of the erstwhile USSR, were experimental earth observation satellites.
APPLE (Ariane Passenger Payload Experiment), an experimental communication satellite, was launched on June 19, 1981 by the Ariane launch vehicle of the European Space Agency (ESA).
Two Stretched Rohini Series satellites, SROSS C and SROSS-C2, were launched successfully by India’s Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) on its third and fourth developmental missions (ASLV-D3 and ASLV-D4) on May 20, 1992, and May 4, 1994, respectively. Both the satellites carried identical scientific payloads, namely, Retarding Potential Analyser and Gamma Ray Burst experiment.
Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE), hailed as one of the largest experiments of its kind, was conducted during 1975-76 using USA’s Application Technology Satellite (ATS-6). It demonstrated the potential of satellite technology as an effective mass communication media.
Satellite Telecommunication Experiment Project (STEP), conducted during 1977-79 using the Franco-German satellite. ‘Symphonie’, provided experience in the operation of a geo-stationary satellite system for domestic telecommunication and in designing and building ground infrastructure.
India’s capability in the launch vehicle technology was first demonstrated through the successful launch of SLV-3 in July 1980, which placed a 40 kg Rohini satellite into a near-earth orbit. Two more launches of SLV-3 were conducted in May 1981 and April 1983 with the Rohini satellites.
The Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle (ASLV) was successfully launched twice from Sriharikota Range (SHAR) on May 20, 1992 and May 4, 1994, respectively. These were the third and fourth developmental launches (ASLV-D3 and ASLV-D4). They injected the SROSS-C and SROSS-C2 (Stretched Rohini Satellite Series) satellite, respectively into a near-earth orbit.
PSLV D 2- A Total Success
The 280 tonne, 44 m tall, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV, is capable of putting 1,000 kg class remote sensing satellite into 900 km polar sun-synchronous orbit. The first developmental flight of PSLV took place on September 20, 1993. Though it could not place the IRS-1E satellite, on board, into the intended polar orbit, the flight proved, in flight, almost all the vehicle systems, including the propulsion systems. The second launch of PSLV-D2 on October 15,1994 was a total success.
The Government has approved the indigenous Cryogenic Upper State Project during April, 1994 following the renegotiation of the Cryogenic technology contract with Russia.
With the operationalisation of GSLV towards the end of the century, ISRO will achieve self-reliance in launch vehicle technology for launching all its scientific remote sensing and geo-stationary satellites.
PSLV D-3 will be launched during 1996. After this 3 PSLV continuation flights have been planned at the rate of one flight a year.
SPACE PROGRAMME ENTERS WORLD MARKET
There has been a significant progress in the commercial exploitation of the space capabilities developed by the country. The Antrix Corporation Ltd. established in September 1992, has shown promising results by securing orders for the study of satellite communication system for INMARSAT, providing training to ARABSAT and Korean engineers and for the supply of space hardware for Brazilian space agency.
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Space based remote sensing technology has drawn the attention of world market. US company EOSAT Co. has entered into a commercial contact with Antrix Corporation of the Space Department to receive and market data from IRS Satellites. Several other contracts have been bagged for supply of space hardware and services. Cooperative agreements have been signed with the Ukrainian National Space Agency and the Russian Space Agency. A high-level United Nations experts team has selected India for the setting up of a UN Centre for Space Science and Technology Education which will cater to the needs of the region.
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