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ISRO to collaborate with academic institutes to bolster space tech

India’s space research organisation (ISRO) recently made an Announcement of Opportunity (AO) to academic institutes around the country to collaborate on space technology.

The AO will identify institutes with “proven credibility” in certain fields and the ISRO will recruit them as a Space-National Academic Partner (S-NAP). Through this, the academic provider will be involved in or facilitate research in space-related technology and applications.

According to the AO notification, ISRO has the primary objective of developing space technology and application programmes to meet the developmental needs of the country. This involves creating technologies, realising new products, and signal processing.

Collaborative working will enable Indian institutes to access ISRO facilities. These academic organisations will be involved in decision-making regarding the adoption of new technologies and applications.

The S-NAP initiative will include development in the fields of satellite communication, satellite navigation applications development and ground segment, signal conditioning, and processing.

Other S-NAP areas are VLSI (very-large-scale integration) and micro-electronics, metallurgy and material science, image processing, space sciences, composites and ceramics, and additive manufacturing techniques.

Also, thermal science, tribology, chemical engineering sciences, structural engineering and analysis, computer science (high-speed computing) and big data analytics, robotics, AI, and RF (radio frequency) technology.

ISRO noted the AO will not fund the organisations, but only identifies certain academic institutes as partners in particular fields.

An academic provider will carry out work within ISRO departments or, with approval, with other collaborators. The S-NAP can submit project proposals suggesting advancements in existing space technology and applications, and the projects found appropriate will be funded by ISRO. S-NAPs will also be able to organise seminars and workshops in areas specific to space activities.

For further progress in other space technology programmes, experts from ISRO are set to receive training for the Gaganyaan (Hindi for orbital vehicle) project at the Toulouse Space Centre in France from this month, according to the France space agency, CNES.

Gaganyaan is an Indian crewed orbital spacecraft that will send three astronauts to space for seven days in 2022, as part of the Indian Human Spaceflight Programme. The ISRO-developed spacecraft consists of a service module and a crew module, collectively known as the Orbital Module. It will be India’s first manned space flight.

With this, India has the potential to become the fourth country to send a man to space, after Russia, the United States, and China. Denmark also has a manned space flight scheduled for 2022.

Additionally, ISRO experts will be trained at CADMOS, the centre for development of microgravity applications and space operations, and the MEDES Space Clinic in France.

ISRO and CNES have also signed an agreement to build a constellation of satellites for maritime surveillance to track ships.

The agreement intends to supply an operational system for detecting, identifying, and tracking ships in the Indian ocean. It will also provide for a maritime surveillance centre to be set up in India.

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