India Releases $83 Million for Regional GPS Overlay

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India’s Cabinet has released 3.78 billion rupees ($83 million) for the nation’s planned regional GPS augmentation system, the second and final installment on the 7.74 billion-rupee program.

The GPS Aided GEO Augmented Navigation, or GAGAN, program is designed to enhance the accuracy of signals from the U.S. GPS satellite constellation using a network of ground stations and payloads aboard geostationary orbiting communications satellites. GAGAN, which means “sky” in Hindi, will support aviation and other transportation services, defense, shipping, telecom and consumers, the Cabinet said in a March 29 announcement.

Expected to be ready for operational use by May 2013, GAGAN will be compatible with other GPS overlay systems including the U.S. Wide Area Augmentation System, the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System and Japan’s Multi-functional Satellite Augmentation System, the Cabinet statement said.

A joint project of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Airport Authority of India, GAGAN will improve the accuracy of GPS receivers by providing reference signals from known locations, ISRO spokesman S. Satish told Space News March 30. GAGAN will be able to help pilots navigate in the Indian airspace with an accuracy of 3 meters, he said.

ISRO’s financial contribution to the project is 1.7 billion rupees. According to ISRO, the ground-based portion of the system will comprise 15 reference stations, three uplink stations and three mission control centers. Raytheon will build the ground stations.

ISRO will provide the space segment and additional ground equipment. The first GAGAN navigation payload was launched aboard the GSat-4 satellite in April 2010, but the mission failed. Satish said the next GAGAN payloads will fly on GSat-8, scheduled to launch atop an Ariane 5 rocket May 11, and GSat-10, to be launched later by an Ariane 5. Satish said the experience gained from operating the GAGAN system would enable ISRO to create an autonomous regional navigation system called the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.