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India approves phase four of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle

The Indian Cabinet has approved the fourth phase of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) continuation programme, which will enable the launch of satellites for geo-imaging, navigation, data relay communication, and space sciences.

GSLV is an expendable launch system operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation. It has been used in thirteen launches to date, since its first launch in 2001 to the most recent one this month.

According to a press release, the total fund requirement is around US $393.2 million and includes the cost of five GSLV vehicles, essential facility augmentation, programme management, and the launch campaign.

This fourth phase is expected to meet the launch requirement of satellites that provide critical satellite navigation services, data relay communications to support the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme, and the next interplanetary mission to Mars. This will also ensure the continuity of production in Indian industry, the release said.

One of the very significant outcomes of the GSLV Continuation Programme is “mastering the highly complex cryogenic propulsion technology”, which is an essential technological capability to launch communication satellites to GTO.

GSLV has established itself as a reliable launch vehicle for communication, navigation, meteorological satellites, and for interplanetary missions.

India has been pushing for developments in space technology and more communications satellites.

Last month, ISRO launched the country’s first electronic surveillance satellite, EMISAT. A space-based electronic intelligence or ELINT from the spacecraft was able to provide location and information about hostile radars placed at the borders.

According to an ISRO release, two solar arrays were deployed automatically. The ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru assumed control of the satellite. The multi-orbit mission lasted three hours. Overall, three sets of payloads were let out at three different orbits in space.

Soon after take-off, EMISAT was ejected first and then the small ‘cube’ satellites, belonging to four countries were released. To get the lower orbit, the fourth stage of the rocket or PS4 had to be restarted twice. ISRO has started reusing PS4 as an innovated, low-cost, space-friendly test bed for microgravity experiments.

For further progress, over the next three years, ISRO plans to build and launch a number of satellites, with earth observation systems overtaking communication satellites as its main focus. Also, a considerable budget has been allocated towards space science and exploration.

Last year, with the announcement of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme (HSP), ISRO is increasing its space science and exploration efforts. In addition to HSP and its crewed orbital spacecraft Gaganyaan, which is aiming for a test launch in 2020 (unmanned), ISRO is also developing its first solar probe, Aditya, scheduled to launch in 2021. ISRO is also working on its second Mars Orbiter Mission for launch in 2022-2023, followed by a Venus orbiter, Shukrayaan-1, which is presumably still in its design phase.

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