India’s first private sector-built navigation satellite IRNSS-1H’s launch was unsuccessful on 31 August, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman AS Kiran Kumar said.
The satellite was launched at 6:59 pm from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. The 1,425 kg satellite – part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) – was carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket XL variant, said an ISRO official.
According to reports, a group of companies, led by the Bengaluru-based defence equipment supplier Alpha Design Technologies, were behind the building of the IRSS-1H, and they were assisted by ISRO scientists.
The involvement of private companies in this satellite sector is expected to become bigger in the coming years.
This was the eighth IRNSS satellite and was expected to be a replacement for IRNSS-1A as its rubidium atomic clocks have failed. The atomic clocks are important to provide the accurate positional data.
Simiply put, the IRNSS or NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) is similar to the US-owned GPS.
The Rs 1,420-crore Indian satellite navigation system NavIC consisted of nine satellites – seven in orbit and two as substitutes. One of the substitutes was the IRNSS-1H.
Like its other IRNSS predecessors, IRNSS-1H also carried two types of payloads – navigation payload and ranging payload.
According to ISRO, NavIC is useful for fishermen to reach the potential fishing area. The fishermen can also get alert messages relating to bad weather, high waves or when they approach international maritime boundary line.
These services are provided through a software application on a smartphone.
The Indian space agency also said NavIC is useful for merchant ships in their navigation and also during search and rescue operations.
In the road transport sector, NavIC helps commuters to traverse distances and also enable transport operators to track their vehicles.
According to ISRO, the navigation system is also helpful for railways in tracking trains and also giving an alert in the case of unmanned level crossing.
The Indian space agency said NavIC is also used for other applications like location-based services, survey and alignment, time synchronised services
Starting July 2013, the Indian space agency has launched seven navigation satellites, with the last one launched on 28 April 2016. Each satellite has a lifespan of 10 years.