India: ISTRAC, which shot into limelight as the nerve centre of the country’s Mars and lunar orbiter missions, has turned 40.
The command and tracking centre for Earth observation or remote sensing spacecraft started its journey in September 1976, moved to Bengaluru in 1984 and today supports 15 low-Earth spacecraft and the Mars Orbiter Mission of 2014.
So far, ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network has supported 64 launch vehicle and satellite missions from its facilities located at Peenya, according to ISRO.
It has also earned small revenue for Antrix Corporation by handling two dozen missions of foreign operators such as Eutelsat.
“[ISTRAC has evolved] from being a tracking station for the [early spacecraft and satellite launch vehicles] SLV/Aryabhata mission to a world class ground support centre supporting complex missions like the GSLV and the Mars Orbiter Mission,” ISRO said.
The centre observed its Ruby Year on Monday in the presence of ISRO Chairman A.S.Kiran Kumar, ISTRAC Director K.V.V.S.S.S.R. Anjaneyulu, and four former directors.
It has an alternative control centre at Lucknow and the Indian Deep Space Network at Byalalu near here. The ISTRAC facilities include an 18-metre S-band deep space network antenna that supported the Chandrayaan-1 of 2008; the indigenous 32-metre S/C-band deep space antenna; the Indian Space Science Data Centre for planetary mission data and the ground segment for the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System.