India Targets June Launch for Navigation Satellite

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BANGALORE, India — The first of a planned seven satellites for India’s regional navigation constellation is slated for launch this June aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, the head of the country’s space agency announced April 17.

Koppilli Radhakrishnan, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), made the announcement at a satellite navigation conference in Bangalore. The entire Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), including the ground segment, will be in operation by 2016, he said.

The IRNSS will comprise three satellites in geostationary orbit, two in inclined geosynchronous orbit and two spares. All of the satellites, based on ISRO’s I-1K platform, are configured to launch aboard domestically built Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles.

Radhakrishnan said the system will provide a standard positioning service for civilian use and a restricted service with encrypted signals for authorized users in the L5 and S frequency bands.

The first IRNSS satellite is being readied for shipment to ISRO’s launch site at Sriharikota in May, while the next three are coming together in a clean room, ISRO scientists said.

Radhakrishnan said the IRNSS system will cover a swath of territory that includes the Indian subcontinent and about 1,500 kilometers beyond, providing horizontal and vertical position location accuracy of better than 20 meters.

Avinash Chander, India’s chief controller for defense research, told the conference that the armed forces looked forward to India’s own satellite system that is reliable and secure. He said the U.S. GPS and Russian Glonass satellite navigation systems might not be available in times of need.

According to ISRO documents, a control center for the IRNSS is under construction at Hassan, about 100 kilometers from Bangalore. A facility is also being established at Bhopal in central India for the control of three IRNSS satellites.