Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Congrats team ISRO....

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched the PSLV-37 rocket which put in to orbit a record 104 satellites from seven countries.This was ISRO’s first space mission for the year 2017, and the most complicated mission it has ever carried out. The mission is significant for the country as it enabled ISRO to test the capabilities for multiple launches of small satellites by its PSLV, which has a payload capacity of more than 1,500 kilos.

The PSLV-C37 standing 44.4 metre tall and weighing 320 ton tore into the morning skies at 9.28 a.m. breaking free of the earth's gravitational pull. After that all satellites were successfully placed in orbit. The PSLV vehicle first launched Cartosat-2 and later 103 of its co-passengers were put into polar Sun Synchronous Orbit which is at a distance of about 520 km from the earth. By the 28th minute of the Rocket's mission, all 104 satellites were put into orbit.

This is a remarkable feat that no other country has done before. Another proud moment for our space scientific community and the nation. India now becomes the first country to write history after launching the 104 satellites in a single rocket. For those who missed this historic moment, or those want to watch it again see it here.

So far ISRO has launched 226 satellites out of which 179 are from foreign nations. GSLV MkII and then Mk III… a series of launch activities are planned  this year also, that means we have many exciting events coming… Wishing all the success in the future projects.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Passenger List of PSLV-C37

With its scheduled mega launch programme on February 15 all eyes are into Indian Space Agency ISRO. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C37), India’s most reliable rocket is the work horse of ISRO.Let's see which are the passengers in PSLV-C37:

India’s Earth imaging satellite, in the Cartosat-2 series satellite, is the primary satellite carried by PSLV-C37.  The CartoSat-2D is the fifth earth observation satellite in the CartoSat series, and is the heaviest satellite on board.This satellite is similar to the earlier four satellites of the Cartosat-2 series. After its injection into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit by PSLV-C37, the satellite will be brought to operational configuration following which it will begin providing regular remote sensing services using its Panchromatic and Multi-spectral cameras. It is powered by solar arrays which generate 986 watt and two Li- ion batteries and has its own fuel. The satellite can be controlled through reaction wheels, magnetic torquers and hydrazine thrusters. Various aspects of the satellite has been thoroughly tested on the ground, including a dynamic balancing test, a solar panel illumination test and a solar panel deployment test. The planned operational period of the satellite is 5 years. 

The imageries from Cartosat-2 series satellite will be useful for:
1)cartographic applications
2)urban and rural applications
3)coastal land use and regulation
4)utility management like road network monitoring
5)water distribution, creation of land use maps
6)change detection to bring out geographical and manmade features
7)various other Land Information System (LIS) and Geographical Information System (GIS) applications.

The two Inertial Navigational System (INS-IA & INS-1B) use a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors (gyroscopes) to calculate the position, orientation and velocity (direction and speed) of a moving object without external references. It is a versatile and modular Nano satellite bus system envisioned for future science and experimental payloads. INS-1A and INS-1B will carry a total of four different payloads from Space Applications Centre (SAC) and Laboratory for Electro Optics Systems (LEOS) of ISRO for conducting various experiments. The INS-1A and INS-1B  satellites are expected to be operational for 6 months.

The primary objectives of INS system are to:
  • Design and develop a low cost modular Nano satellite in the weight range of 10 kg capable of carrying payloads up to a weight of 5 kg.
  • Provide an opportunity for ISRO technology demonstration payloads.
  • Provide a standard bus for launch on demand services.
  • Provide an opportunity to carry innovative payloads for Universities / R&D laboratories.
Out of 96 satellites from USA, 88 satellites are from Planet Labs, a company that sells Earth imaging service. Yes, the company which purchased Terra Bella, Google’s satellite imaging business. These satellites are small CubeSats known as Dove satellites, Dove( flock-3p) nano satellites are a group of remote sensing satellites which will image the earth every day for its commercial, environmental, humanitarian purposes. Flock 2p, which is a constellation of 12 Dove satellites, was also launched by Isro in the PSLV-C34 mission in last June, that had 20 satellites on board. Flock 3p will form a constellation with an ideal mid morning pass timing, that allows for clear images with minimum shadows.

Next 8 satellites are called LEMUR nano satellites meant for providing vessel tracking using automated identification system, besides carrying out weather measurement using GPS Radio Occulatation. The Lemur satellites are owned and managed by Spire Global. These are a part of a constellation of satellites that track ships in open waters which is useful for real-time monitoring of large ships. The data is used by insurance companies, for the safety of the ships, to monitor illegal fishing and to take measures against piracy.the Lemur satellites are also equipped with instruments for monitoring the weather, which improves the accuracy of weather forecasts. 

The PiezoElectric Assisted Smart Satellite Structure PEASS from The Netherlands is a nanosatellite meant to test and qualify cutting edge “smart structures”, which combine composite panels, piezoelectric materials and next generation sensors.Smart structures will enable fine angle control, thermal and vibration compensation, improving all types of future Earth observations, such as environmental and planetary mapping, border and regional imaging. This new technology will help keep Europe on the cutting edge of space research, potentially improving the cost and development time for more accurate future sensor platforms including synthetic aperture optics, moving target detection and identification, and compact radars.The results of the technology demonstration will be disseminated to the industry through web sites, papers, presentations and courses. The PEASSS is built by a European consortium of Partners, lead by Dutch research institute TNO and owned by Innovative Solutions in Space.

The Overall Project Goal is To develop and test the following smart structures:
  • piezo actuated “smart panels” for pointing of optical instruments/sensors
  • piezo actuated “smart panels” for power harvesting
  • fiber bragg gratings for composite structure strain and temperature measurement
  • next generation of power conditioners for future applications in space missions.
The DIDO-2 is a microgravity research nanosatellite built by  SpacePharma from Switzerland. a platform for conducting biochemical and physical experiments in microgravity, allowing scientists to investigate phenomena that are normally obscured by gravity on Earth. Currently, access to microgravity research is restricted to the International Space Station, which is prohibitively expensive. SpacePharma allows customers, mainly pharmaceutical companies, to design experiments meant for space. The customers can monitor and control the experiments from their own location. The DIDO-2 is the first satellite to be launched by SpacePharma. 

BGUSat is a technology demonstration nanosatellite from Israel based on the CubeSat architecture. The payloads on board are a camera, a space GPS, and an optical communication system.   There is an automatic housekeeping program on board to monitor the communications and power functions. Israeli Aerospace Industries has built the satellite in cooperation with students from the Ben Gurion University. The main objective of the mission is so that students can learn the planning and development of satellites. The students will learn about telemetry systems, attitude control, power, sensors and integration. There are deployable solar panels for power.

The Nayif-1 is a nanosatellite from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the smallest and lightest passenger on board. The Nayif-1 is the first nanosatellite by UAE, and has been built by engineering students. The Nayif-1 was initially slotted to fly on board a Spacex Falcon 9. The Nayif-1 will pass over the UAE twice a day. The morning pass will be used by students, whereas the evening pass is for amateur radio communications. The students have created a special ground station for receiving telemetry data and have created a dashboard to display greeting messages in Arabic. The satellite will also collect a large amount of environmental space data.

The Al-Farabi-1 is a nano-satellite from Kazakhstan. The Al-Farabi-1 is the first student nano-satellite from Kazakhstan, and is built by the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. The main payload is a 3MP sensor. There are solar panels on all the sides of the satellite. There are 4 sun sensors on board, a 3 axis magnetic sensor, a 3 axis gyro sensor, 3 reaction wheels and a 3 axis magnetorquer, which will all be used to control the satellite. A ground station has been built for downlink and uplink operations. The satellite will orbit around the earth fourteen times every day, with each orbit lasting 97 minutes

The flight of the rocket is expected to last sixteen minutes. The satellites will start separating after that, over a period of roughly ten minutes. The CartoSat-2D will be deployed first, followed by pairs of the nanosatellites. The nanosatellites are packed into quadpack dispensers for being released into orbit. The entire operation is expected to last about 28 minutes.

Isro will also be streaming the launch live on its site. Finally, a live web stream of the launch will also be available on the DoordarshanYouTube channel.
Wishing team ISRO all the best....

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

All eyes to ISRO........ ISRO ROCKS AGAIN....

India is all set to rule the space... Heard right?? With its mega-launch program on February 15, India will create history by launching a record 104 satellites, including 101 foreign ones, into the polar sun-synchronous orbit(SSO), about 500 km above the earth. The launch is expected to be a world record when it comes to the number of satellites put into orbit by a launch vehicle in a single mission, surpassing the 37 satellites launch record set by a Russian rocket on June 19, 2014.

India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), will launch the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 664 kg. Of the total earth-observation satellites, there are 101 nano satellites, one each from Israel, Kazakhstan, The Netherlands, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 96 from United States of America (USA), as well as two Nano satellites from India and the Cartosat-2 series. The foreign satellites in the list are 88 Dove satellites from PLanet Labs, USA, 8 Lemur-2 nanosatellites from Spire Global, BGUSat from Israel, Al-Farabi-1 from Kazakhstan, PEASS from The Netherlands, DIDO -2 from Switzerland, and Nayif-1  from  UAE. The total weight of all the satellites carried onboard PSLV-C37 is about 1378 kg.  PSLV-C37 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 9.28 Hrs IST. It will be the sixteenth flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors). 

The deployment of 88 Dove satellites by the PSLV-C37 mission is on track to be the single biggest constellation launch in history.  The major challenge that would be faced by scientists for the proposed mission is to hold the rocket in the same orbit till all the satellites are ejected. Dr. K. Sivan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Thiruvananthapuram, said the every satellite will be separated in different angle and at different time from the launch vehicle in order to prevent collision between satellites.The satellite separated from the launch vehicle will have a relative velocity of one metre per second. So after 1,000 seconds the distance between a satellite and the rocket will be 1,000 metres. “The satellite that gets launched first will move at a relatively faster velocity than the next satellite that is launched. Due to different relative velocities, the distance between the satellites will increase continuously but the orbit will be the same,” he said.

PSLV- C37, will use the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) to determine the orbit of each satellite injected from the launch vehicle at a height of more than 500 km from the earth’s surface. “By turning to 
IRNSS, we are shedding our dependence on the Global Positioning System (GPS) that was being used for orbit determination in previous missions,” said Dr. K. Sivan.

Earlier ISRO was about to launch 83 satellites in one go which included 80 foreign satellites and three Indian satellites in January. However, the Indian space agency has made addition of 20 more foriegn satellites and have postponed the launch for a month.

ISRO has gained reputation in International space market after the success of iconic Mangalyaan mission and successful GSLV launch which enabled Indian space agency to lift up heavier payload. After that foreign space agencies are seeking help of ISRO for their satellite launches. Space agencies like NASA are also willing to collaborate with ISRO for future space missions.Till date, ISRO has launched over 50 foreign satellites. By lifting up 101 foreign satellites in one go, Indian space agency will improve its own record for lifting the maximum number of foreign satellites. In addition, Indian space agency will hit the century of foreign satellite launches. When asked about record making ISRO chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar has revealed that the Indian space agency is not focusing on making the world record rather scientists are working on expanding the launching capacity of launch vehicles.

Antrix is the commercial wing of Isro, an organisation that promotes and commercially markets Isro products and services. The 101 international customer nano-satellites are being launched as part of the commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited. Antrix is wholly owned by the Government of India. 

ISRO has some stiff competition ahead, but for now, it is in good position for commercial satellite launches. I think its time for ISRO to focus on reviving human spaceflight venture and other technology developments. India is  also planning to go to Venus for the first time and re-visit the Red Planet very soon. 

The launch will be a major feat in country’s space history, a record no space agency across the globe has achieved. Following are some of  the records that will be created if this mega launch is a huge success:

  • ISRO will be the world record holder of launching the most number of satellites in one go.
  • Indian space agency will hit the century of foreign satellite launches.
  • PSLV-C37 will use IRNSS, India’s own navigation system, therby shedding our dependence on GPS
  • ISRO is breaking its own record with this launch. Last year the space agency had launched record 20 satellites in one go.
  • The deployment of 88 satellites from a single rocket is the largest single fleet launch in history.
Wishing ISRO all the best for creating history….We can also be a witness to the history by switching on our TV or by you tube. Doordarshan will telecast the launch operations live, with a pre-launch program starting from 8:50AM. Isro will also be streaming the launch live on its site. Finally, a live web stream of the launch will also be available on the DoordarshanYouTube channel.

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