labels: aerospace, indian space research organisation, technology, space
PSLV: The workhorse to get readynews
Venkatachari Jagannathan
12 May 2003

Sriharikota: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has lined up a slew of launches for its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). While primarily the missions are for Indian payloads, in some cases PSLV will carry foreign cargo, too.

One such mission will be in 2005-06 when PSLV will carry an earth observation micro-satellite, X-SAT, owned by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. ISRO's commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, has signed an agreement with NTU and is also providing support in satellite development and testing.

In one of its missions PSLV will also carry a space recovery capsule that is currently under planning stage. According to plans, the capsule will be put in polar sun-synchronous orbit during 2004-05. With this, India takes the first step towards developing reusable vehicle.

Says R V Perumal, associate director (projects), Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), part of ISRO: "We will do some micro-gravity experiment in the orbit, which will have applications in natural science and pharmaceuticals by putting relevant equipment in the capsule." The capsule will re-enter the atmosphere and will be recovered from the sea, as it will float. It will be a parachute landing for the capsule."

According to Dr K Kasturirangan, chairman, ISRO and secretary, Department of Space, a series of remote sensing and cartography satellites will be sent up during the next five years. The first remote sensing satellite to go will be the ResourcesAT1 (IRS P6). It will carry the following payloads:

  • a multi-spectral camera providing 23.5 m spatial resolution in four spectral bands with a swath of 140 kms,
  • a high-resolution multi-spectral camera with across track steerability providing 5.8-metre spatial resolution and 23.5 kms swath and operating in three spectral bands, and
  • an advanced wide field sensor with a spatial resolution better than 56 metres in three spectral bands and providing a swath of 740 kms.

IRS-P6 will be placed in a sun-synchronous polar orbit of 800 kms. It will not only provide service continuity to IRS-1C and IRS-1D but also enhance the service capabilities in the areas of agriculture, disaster management, and land and water resources with better resolution imageries.

Two satellites for advance cartographic applications — CARTOSAT-1 and CARTOSAT-2 — are getting ready. The first one, slated during 2003-04, will have two panchromatic cameras with a spatial resolution of 2.5 metre and a swath of 30 kms each. The data products will be used for cartographic applications, cadastral mapping and updating, land use and other GIS applications.

On the other hand CARTOSAT-2 will have a single panchromatic camera that would provide scene-specific spot imageries for cartographic applications. The panchromatic camera is designed to provide better than 1-metre spatial resolution imageries with a swath of 10 kms. The satellite is planned for launch in 2004-05.

Last year ISRO initiated development of a microwave remote sensing satellite, RISAT which would observe even during night and cloudy conditions. Apart from the NTU's some other micro satellites will piggyback on PSLV's main payload. One such payload is the educational micro-satellite developed by Anna University.

Similarly, HAMSAT is another micro-satellite designed to provide satellite-based radio amateur services to Indian and international HAM (amateur radio operators) community. According to the Department of Space, HAMSAT will have Linear Mode B (UHF/VHF) transponders — one transponder to be built by Indian amateurs and the other to be provided by AMSAT, Italy / the Netherlands. The satellite will weigh 40 kgs.


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PSLV: The workhorse to get ready