ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is scheduled to launch 32 space missions in 2019, according to an ISRO official. ISRO is also geared up to send India’s second lunar mission into space, Chandrayaan-2 and India’s maiden human space mission in 2021-22, Gaganyaan.
“The year 2019 promises to be challenging to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) community with 32 planned missions,” its chairman K. Sivan said in a message to his employees on New Year on Tuesday. The missions include the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2 to land on the moon with lander and rover. The Rs 800-crore lunar mission will the 25th from the second launch pad of the spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, about 90km northeast of Chennai.
India’s maiden human space mission in 2021-22, Gaganyaan, will also be pursued this year, Sivan said in a first-of-its-kind New Year message from the space agency top executive to its staff. “Gaganyaan activities will go in full steam to accomplish the various development and qualification milestones,” the Chairman said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of Gaganyaan on August 15 last year has allowed the space agency to fulfil its dream of undertaking a human spaceflight programme, Sivan said.
The pad abort test held on July 5, 2018, to test the escape system of the crew module has given ISRO confidence to pursue the human space mission, he added. The space agency is also aiming to re-instate its microwave remote sensing capability through the Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT) series and hopes to attain geo-imaging capability through Geo-Imaging Satellite (GISAT) series. “The country will meet the high throughput bandwidth requirement of Digital India and also in-flight connectivity with the launch of GSAT-20,” Sivan said. The space agency will enhance remote sensing data for crop production estimation to cover 10 additional crops and provide inputs for water and energy security.
“It is planned to improve the payload capability of Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) and its variants,” he added. Marking the birth centenary of the founding father of India’s space programme, Vikram Sarabhai, ISRO will host a year-long celebration from August 12, with national and international events such as fellowships, scholarships at universities. Recounting the year gone by, Sivan said 2018 had many firsts for ISRO, which undertook 16 missions, of which seven were accomplished in 35 days.
“The national confidence in ISRO is reflected in the highest ever allocation of about Rs 30,000-crore for 23 new and continuation programmes in a single year,” Sivan said. Among the space agency’s achievements in 2018 were the launch of the heaviest satellite GSAT-29 (3,423 kg) on November 14 and building the heaviest communication satellite GSAT-11 (5,854 kg), launched on December 5 onboard the Arianespace space agency’s rocket from French Guiana on the north Atlantic coast of South America. ISRO has received approval for the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), along with a dedicated launch pad, and is working on reusable launch vehicle development, Sivan noted.
“The approval of 30 Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and 10 GSLV Mk-III operational flights, along with development of semi-cryogenic stage, uprated cryogenic stage and all-electric spacecraft propulsion will accelerate ISRO towards new capabilities, Sivan added. The space agency has been working on national programmes for the socio-economic security and sustainable development, including that of the national geospatial energy information system, enhanced earth observational capabilities, real-time disaster management like during floods in Kerala and northeastern states last year.
ISRO has also tied up with the Ministry of Home Affairs to provide technical support for establishing an integrated control room for emergency management, Sivan stated. The space agency is working to step up its launch capacity through a second vehicle assembly building for the second launch pad, which has been completed and is constructing a PSLV integration facility for the first launch pad.
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