New Delhi: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has gotten back on track after the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and is gearing up for two launches in August and September.
According to the Satish Dhawan Space Center (SDSC) website, the GSLV launch is scheduled for August and PSLV is scheduled for September. However, the dates have not been specified yet.
The GSLV rocket would be carrying India’s GISAT-1, an earth observation satellite that is meant to be placed in Geostationary orbit (36,000kms from the earth). This orbit is typically meant for communication satellites that have to cover a large swathe of land. A satellite in geostationary orbit would be in sync with the rotation cycle of the earth(24hrs) and it would appear to be stationary when seen from the earth, thus giving it the name. It is said that three aptly positioned Geostationary satellites can cover pretty much all of Earth.
According to ISRO, GISAT-1 is meant to provide near-real-time imaging of a large region of interest at frequent intervals, quick monitoring of natural disasters, episodic events and also obtain spectral signatures for agriculture, forestry, mineralogy, disaster warning, cloud properties, snow, glaciers and oceanography.
Queried on reports by a news agency regarding the GISAT-1 launch being scheduled for 5:43 am on August 12, Dr Sivan told Zee Media that it was more of an internal deadline and not an official launch date. He also added that activities for the launch have started and are underway.
The PSLV rocket (scheduled for September launch) is expected to carry a satellite dubbed as EOS-4 or Earth Observation Satellite 4.
The GSLV and PSLV launches would be India’s second and third launches for the year, respectively. It was in February that a PSLV (on a commercial flight) launched Amazonia-1, a Brazilian Earth Observation Satellite and 18 smaller satellites.
During the downtime owing to pandemic lockdowns across India, ISRO had been contributing to the nation’s COVID-19 fight. ISRO had ramped up manufacturing of liquid oxygen(cryogenic rocket fuel) to support hospitals. ISRO centres also had repurposed their gas storage tanks to store liquid oxygen, thus using them as large depots to support the medical requirements. The organization had also developed various models of indigenous, low-cost medical ventilators. These models were then handed over to the Indian industry for mass manufacture.
ISRO is also working on conducting human-rating tests on its heavy lifter rocket – the GSLV Mk 3. Repeated tests of the rockets various engines (solid-fueled, liquid-fueled and cryogenic) are being done to ensure that the rocket which ferries satellites can be reliable enough to carry Indian astronauts to Low Earth orbit. Known as Gaganyaan or Human Spaceflight programme, this is India’s most ambitious mission yet.