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Crippled IRNSS 1A to be used for messaging services, ISRO reveals at Space Expo 2018

The first satellite in India’s indigenous GNSS constellation, IRNSS 1A, which was declared crippled after three atomic clocks on board it failed last year and had to be replaced by IRNSS 1H this year, has not been lost technically. It will be used to perform important messaging services now, said Nilesh Desai, Deputy Director, SAC.

Desai was speaking at a session on Navigation and its utilities at the 6th Bengaluru Space Expo 2018.

At the expo, light was shed on the potential of IRNSS, its opportunities, expanding its capability and how it could be synergized with other communication and Earth Observation services.

Satellite based navigation has immense utilities in varied fields and the role is increasing and evolving each day. Three global navigation systems are American GPS, Russian GLONASS and European Galileo. Chinese Beidou is But there are regional satellite systems as well, including Japan’s QZSS and India’s IRNSS/NavIC. India wants to expand the capability of IRNSS and build more application areas around it that could rival the ones functioning on GPS or Galileo. IRNSS provides the user with a targeted position accuracy of better than 20 kmss over India and the region extending up to 1500 kms. NavIC uses two orbits –GEOs (Geostationary) and IGSOs.

Among the advantages of NavIC are fast acquisition, low multipath in India due to high elevation of satellite and no L1 jamming.

IRNSS currently has two services, namely, Standard Position Service and Restricted Services, which is largely used for defense purposes.

P Rama Subramanian, Program Director, ISAC, said “IRNSS is well tested. It is undergoing rigorous testing since 5 years now. So now it is ready to use. It is continuously monitored throughout India and its data is archived and analyzed”

In the future IRNSS would also include L1 signal for standard positioning from 2021. Traceability of IRNSS would be set to IST( Indian Standard Time). Another distinguishing fact about IRNSS is that it is the only GNSS in the world that operates on a dual frequency band – S and L. Commercial services in the L1 band are expected to be available in a few years.

“We have an MOU with NPL, which is the national time keeper of India. And these timings should be available to the users by 2019”, said Rama Subramanian.

He also added that IRSS would continue to improve and expand continuously and would deliver state-of-the-art services to the people.

Shishir Verma, Senior VP, MapmyIndia, said, “MapmyIndia has developed a Fisherman app that assists fishermen and prevents them from wading into seas during high tides and flooding”. The app works on IRNSS and delivers warning messages to the fishermen.

ISRO is actively involved in promoting NavIC. The Satnav PO at ISRO headquarters is the nodal office for coordinating ISRO’s navigation efforts.

KK Sood, Director, SATNAV PO ISRO, said “NavIC would support a gamut of opportunities and areas, including surveying and geofencing. Build-to-print technologies and end-to-end system integration including 3D printing are among the technologies that could enable the proliferation of NavIC.”

For the evolution of NavIC, ISRO is looking at advanced technologies like cloud computing, added Rakesh Sood.

Navigation along with communication – or Navcom – would be the buzzword in future, said Nilesh Desai. He is hopeful that in the near future in India NavIC would soon emerge as an alternative to GPS and eventually replace it completely.

Pratap Hegde, CEO, Rane t4U, said, “Most transport systems in India lack navigation intelligence. So NavIC would emerge as a player in this regard”.

But there are many challenges ahead as NavIC is a late entrant in satellite navigation and it would be difficult to enforce mandates in India. Also, lack of incentivization for adoption and almost non-existent integrated sectoral digital platform is a factor, believes Pratap Hegde.

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