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India successfully launches advanced earth observation satellite

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C46) successfully launched the RISAT-2B satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, in Andhra Pradesh, earlier the week.

This was the 72nd launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota and 36th launch from the First Launch Pad. RISAT-2B is a radar imaging earth observation satellite with advanced radial rib antenna technology. The satellite is intended to provide services in the field of agriculture, forestry, and disaster management.

According to a press statement released by the Department of Space (DOS), PSLV-C46 lifted-off from the First Launch Pad and injected RISAT-2B into an orbit of 556 Kilometres, about 15 minutes and 25 seconds after lift-off.

After the separation, the solar arrays of RISAT-2B were deployed automatically and the Indian Space and Research Organisation’s Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) assumed control of the satellite. Over the next few days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration.

The ISRO Chairman praised the efforts of the team involved in the creation of the piggyback payload carried onboard this mission, the Vikram processor and the low-cost MEMS-based Inertial Navigation System. It was developed by the Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL) in Chandigarh and ISRO’s Inertial Systems Unit.

SCL is an autonomous body under the DOS. It carries out research and development in the area of microelectronics.

The activities at SCL are focused on the design, development, manufacturing, testing, assembling, and packaging of complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) devices, imaging, and micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) devices. SCL is also involved in high reliability (Hi-Rel) board fabrication and component screening for ISRO and the indigenisation of electronic boards for the country’s Air Force.

According to an ISRO press release, the Vikram processor is one of the key components for the launch vehicle application. One of the main features of the processor is in the realisation of onboard computers for navigation, guidance and control processing in-flight applications, and general-purpose processing applications.

There is an ever-growing need to incorporate more tech-based features for accuracy and precision. Reducing the size, weight, and volume of onboard systems as well as improving reliability through higher levels of integration is what the government is working towards.

In 2018, 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.

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 to space science and exploration.

Last month, OpenGov reported that the Indian Cabinet approved the fourth phase of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) continuation programme, which enabled the launch of satellites for geo-imaging, navigation, data relay communication, and space sciences.

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