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India to launch Cartosat-2

India, 1 August 2006: With a population of more than 1 billion people, India has been targeted as one of the largest potential markets for satellite services, but the Indian Space Research Organization’s (ISRO) efforts to play a key role in developing the market was thrown into chaos after the failed launch of the INSAT-4C, India’s heaviest ever communications satellite.

The challenge for ISRO is what to do next. Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function at the Space Application Centre (SAC) to give away the Astronautial Society of India’s annual awards, ISRO Chairman Mr. Madhavan Nair said, ” the geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle failure will not have any bearing on Chandrayaan, the country’s first mission to the Moon. Chandrayaan will be launched by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)”.

Mr. Nair said the loss of INSAT-4C capacity would “only have a short-term impact.” While the loss of INSAT-4C dealt a blow to ISRO’s plans, he said the organization was moving ahead with the launch of other satellites.

If everything remains on schedule, ISRO will enter a busy period. The organization expects to make progress in the Remote Sensing area. The Cartosat-2 imagery satellite, which will carry a black-and-white camera that can collect images with a 1m resolution, will be placed into orbit by a PSLV before year’s end.

CARTOSAT-2 will be an advanced remote sensing satellite with a single panchromatic camera capable of providing scene specific spot imageries for cartographic applications. The satellite will have high agility with capability to steer along and across the track up to +45 degrees. It will be placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit at an altitude of 630 km. It will have a revisit period of 4 days, which can be improved to one day with suitable orbit manoeuvres. The panchromatic camera is designed to provide better than 1 m spatial resolution imageries with a swath of 10 km.

Another PSLV mission is slated to carry a space-capsule recovery experiment to demonstrate the recovery of an orbiting space capsule, as well as a small Indonesian satellite.

“In the year ahead, India will continue to launch communication and Remote Sensing satellites to enhance the present system capabilities. INSAT-4B, identical to the INSAT-4A satellite, which was launched in December 2005, carrying 12 Ku-band and 12 C-band transponders mainly catering to direct-to-home television services, is planned for launch on board a European Ariane launcher in the first quarter of 2007,” he said.

“An experimental satellite, GSAT-4, to demonstrate multi-beam Ka-band transponder and carrying a navigation payload, besides several spacecraft bus technologies, is planned for launch on board our GSLV,” he added.

While ISRO is still investigating the July 11 GSLV failure, the agency will push ahead with upgrades to the vehicle to increase its payload capacity. “While the present GSLV carrying the Russian-supplied cryogenic stage is able to launch 2,000kg-size satellites into [geosynchronous transfer orbit], once the Russian-supplied cryogenic stage is replaced by India’s own cryogenic stage, which is now in an advanced stage of testing, the GSLV will be able to place up to 2,500kg-size satellites in [geosynchronous transfer orbit],” he said.

The next-generation vehicle, dubbed GSLV-Mk 3, can place up to 4 tons into geosynchronous orbit. The first test of that vehicle is scheduled to take place in 2008. The agency’s smaller rocket, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), had completed eight missions, which Nair described as “the workhorse launch vehicle” for India.

“It has launched not only Remote Sensing satellites into polar orbits, but also a meteorological satellite, Kalpana-1, into geosynchronous transfer orbit. Besides, it has successfully demonstrated multiple satellite launch capability, having already launched three satellites simultaneously in two of its missions,” he said.

“The PSLV is planned to be used in the launch of the Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft. The PSLV is a reliable and versatile launch vehicle for low-Earth orbit, polar and even for launching small satellites into [geosynchronous transfer orbit]. This vehicle is already being offered to international customers and there are few satellites lined up for launch – Italian Agile and a satellite from Singapore,” he added.

Nair believed the work ISRO had done had led to changes in several sectors of national development. Remote Sensing is also playing an integral role. “Several applications like ground water prospecting, agricultural acreage and yield estimation, land use and land cover planning, forecasting potential zones for fishing, and forest survey have been taken up. Remote Sensing is also used in disaster mitigation by mapping inundated areas and locating forest fires. Combining the capabilities of INSAT and IRS satellites, several Village Resources Centers have been set up to help farmers by providing information on various aspects like land, crop, market information, weather forecasts, and providing connectivity for telemedicine,” Nair said.