After several delays due to the coronavirus pandemic and successive closures, the Indian Space & Research Organization (Isro) is accelerating by obtaining its new head in the person of Dr S Somnath. Senior rocket scientists have said the space agency will carry out five major satellite launches in the next three months, as it briefed Science and Technology Minister Dr Jitendra Singh.
The Isro Chairman provided a brief overview of upcoming missions over the next three months, which include a RICAT-1A PSLV C5-2 launch scheduled for February this year, followed by the launch of OCEANSAT-3 and INS 2B ANAND PSLV C-53 in March and SSLV-D1 Micro SAT in April 2022.
Meanwhile, Isro will also launch GSAT-21, the first satellite fully funded by New Space India Limited (NSIL). The communications satellite will be developed and operated by NSIL to meet the needs of Direct to Home (DTH) applications.
After the meeting, the Minister said that under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, space programs have received a special boost and space technology is now applicable in different sectors, including roads and highways, railways, iron, health care and agriculture. “Over the next few years, India’s rise to the top will be heralded via the space route,” the minister said.
GAANYAAN: DELAYED, BUT BACK ON TRACK
Briefing Minister of India’s first manned mission Gaganyaan, Somnath said there had been a delay in the schedule due to Covid-19 and other constraints but now things are back on track and all systems needed for the first unmanned mission are being prepared.
Head of Isro, Dr S Somnath, with Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh. (Photo: GDP)
Isro plans to launch the first unmanned mission under Gaganyaan in 2022, after which the second unmanned mission “Vyommitra” will carry a robot and this will then be followed by the manned mission. The Isro chairman said the selected Indian astronauts had successfully completed generic spaceflight training in Russia and an ad-hoc astronaut training center had also been established in Bangalore.
The Isro chief further said that the preparations for the manned mission involved a flight demonstration of the crew escape system operating in the lower atmosphere (less than 10 km). The crew module recovery exercise after impact at sea is also being developed.
After being appointed head of Isro for a three-year term, the senior scientist said India needed new players in the space sector to deliver “economically viable programs”. Somanath, who served as the director of the Liquid Propulsion Systems Center (LPSC) at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, was instrumental in the development of the GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle and was team leader for the integration of the satellite launch vehicle Polar (PSLV) during the early stages of his career.
“Best wishes to him for taking on a prestigious mission at a turbulent time when India is heading for its first human space mission ‘Gaganyaan’ and other historic breakthroughs,” Dr Jitendra Singh tweeted after the meeting. .