New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has gotten back on track after the Covid-19 pandemic and is preparing for two launches in August and September.
As per Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) website, the GSLV launch is scheduled for August and the PSLV launch is scheduled for September. However, the dates have not yet been announced.
A GSLV rocket will carry India’s GISAT-1 Earth observation satellite into geostationary orbit (36,000km from the Earth). Typically, this orbit is used by communication satellites that have to cover a large area. In geostationary orbit a satellite would be in sync with the rotation cycle of the earth (24h) and appear as if it were stationary from the earth’s perspective, hence named. It is said that three aptly placed Geostationary satellites can travel pretty much all of Earth. GISAT-1 is designed to provide near-real-time imaging of a large region of interest at frequent intervals, monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and also obtaining cloud properties, snow, glaciers and oceanographic information.
Upon being asked about reports by a news agency that the GISAT-1 launch was scheduled for 5:43 am on August 12, Dr. Sivan responded that it was more of an internal deadline than an official launch date. In addition, he noted that launch-related activities had begun.
The PSLV rocket (scheduled for September launch) will launch a satellite dubbed EOS-4, or Earth Observation Satellite 4.
GSLV and PSLV would be India’s second and third launches of the year. In February, a PSLV (on a commercial flight) carried off Amazonia-1, a Brazilian Earth Observation Satellite and 18 smaller satellites.
While the downtime owing to pandemic lockdowns across India, ISRO had been contributing to the nation’s COVID-19 fight. ISRO had stepped up manufacturing of liquid oxygen (cryogenic rocket fuel) to support hospitals. ISRO centres also repurposed their gas storage tanks to store liquid oxygen, thus serving as large depots to support the medical needs. The organization also developed indigenous, low-cost medical ventilators. The models were then handed over to the Indian industry for mass production.
The ISRO is also conducting human-rating experiments on its GSLV Mk 3 heavy lifter rocket. In order to ensure the rocket’s mission of ferrying satellites can be reliable enough to transport Indian astronauts to Low Earth Orbit, repeated tests are being conducted on its various engines (solid-fuel, liquid-fuel and cryogenic). In other words, Gaganyaan or Indian Human Spaceflight program is the biggest mission India has ever attempted.