Space 2003 : An overview

By Year 2003 was a really | 02 Jan 2004


While the organisation launched four satellites — Insat 3A, 3E, G Sat 2 and Resourcesat — the major achievements are the commissioning of the geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) and the successful testing of the indigenous cryogenic engine's endurance.

The year also saw Madhavan Nair becoming the ISRO chief; secretary, department of space; and chairman, Space Commission. While ISRO didn't launch any third party satellites last year, it has started making a mark in the global satellite launch industry with its two launch vehicles.

Recently ISRO signed an agreement with Israel Space Agency (ISA) to cooperate for including Tel Aviv University Ultra Violet Experiment (TAUVEX) on board G Sat-4 satellite planned for launch by geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) during 2005.

According to ISRO, TAUVEX is a telescope that will image the sky in the ultra-violet (UV) spectrum. The data from the telescope will help in solving astrophysical questions related to star formation, history of galaxies and physics of giant black holes. It could also help in guiding other space telescopes towards selected interesting objects in the sky.

The scientific data from TAUVEX will be useful for the Indian scientists to analyse the UV data and prepare themselves to receive and analyse data from India's own astronomy satellite, Astrosat, which is also planned to carry an ultra-violet imaging telescope besides other instruments.

The application of space systems for various developmental tasks continued during the year. The tele-medicine network using Insat was further expanded. Pilot projects were initiated to prepare for the utilisation of Edusat, an exclusive satellite for educational use, planned for launch in 2004.

Ground water prospect zone maps for seven states (Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand, Kerala and Rajasthan) were completed and, based on 25,000 wells drilled using these maps, a 90-per cent success rate was reported.

Increasing revenues
On the revenue side Resourcesat-1 is expected to increase the export revenues from selling remote-sensing data by Rs 10 crore to Rs 30 crore per year. The global market for remote-sensing images is around $120 million. ISRO, through its commercial arm Antrix Corporation, is one of the major players in this field and earns around Rs 20 crore. Antrix targets a global market share of 50 per cent in this space.

The company has a tie-up with the US-based Space Imaging Corporation for marketing the remote-sensing data worldwide. Leasing of transponders in the INSAT satellite series is yet another revenue source for ISRO. The organisation, leasing out 108 transponders out of 120 it owns, earns Rs 150 crore per year.

The major events for ISRO during 2003 were:

10 April 2003: The multipurpose satellite, Insat-3A, was launched. It was the third satellite to be launched in the Insat-3 series after Insat-3B and 3C. The 2,950-kg Insat-3A is the heaviest satellite built by ISRO so far. The communication payloads include 12 C-band, six upper-extended C-band and six Ku-band transponders and a satellite-aided search-and-rescue transponder. The meteorological instruments include very high-resolution radiometer, charge-coupled device camera and meteorological data relay transponder.

8 May 2003: The second developmental test flight of India's GSLV was successfully carried from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. With this second successive test, GSLV was commissioned into service for launching 2,000-kg class of satellites into geo-synchronous transfer orbit. GSAT-2, the satellite launched by GSLV, is an experimental communication satellite carrying four C-band transponders, two Ku-band transponders and a mobile satellite service transponder besides four scientific payloads.

15 August 2003: Vajpayee announced, in his Independence Day address, that India will undertake Chandrayaan-1, a scientific mission to moon. Chandrayaan-1 envisages placing a 525-kg spacecraft in the 100-km polar orbit of the moon. ISRO's polar satellite launch vehicle, PSLV, will launch the spacecraft. Chandrayaan-1 is expected to be the forerunner for more ambitious planetary missions in the years to come.

1 September 2003: G Madhavan Nair, director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, took over as chairman, ISRO; secretary, department of space; and chairman, Space Commission. He took over from Dr K Kasturirangan, who was nominated as member, Rajya Sabha.

28 September 2003: Insat-3E, the fourth satellite in the Insat-3 series, was launched successfully. The 2,775-kg communication satellite carries 24 C-band transponders and 12 upper extended C-band transponders.

17 October 2003: In its eighth flight conducted ISRO's polar satellite launch vehicle, PSLV-C5, successfully launched the Indian remote sensing satellite, Resourcesat-1, precisely into the intended 820 km polar orbit. Resourcesat-1 is the most advanced remote sensing satellite built by ISRO so far. It carries a high-resolution linear imaging self-scanner (LISS-4) with 5.8-metre spatial resolution, LISS-3, with a spatial resolution of 23.5 metre and an advanced wide field sensor with spatial resolution of 56 metre.

5 December 2003: The indigenous cryogenic engine successfully undergoes endurance test. The engine, along with its two steering engines as used in the actual flight, was tested for 1,000 seconds while it is required to operate for 720 seconds. The test marked an important milestone in the development of the indigenous cryogenic stage for GSLV.

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