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ISRO bracing up for busy year: Chairman

Sriharikota (AP): ISRO Chairman K Sivan today said the space agency was bracing up for a busy year during which it has lined up several missions, including its important 'Chandrayaan-2'. In the next eight months, ISRO has nine missions, Sivan told reporters after the successful launch of the IRNSS-1I navigation satellite at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre here.

Built for a ten-year job in space, IRNSS-1I is expected to be ready for work in about a month after routine orbit manoeuvres and tests. "We have a lot more missions on the anvil. In the next eight months, we are going to have nine missions. We are going to have GSAT, PSLV missions... Towards the end of the year we have the major mission - Chandryaan-2," he said 

There were plans for the 5.7 tonne GSAT-11 mission, a throughput satellite using Arianne rocket, he said, adding that it would be the heaviest satellite the space agency has made so far. "This apart, there would be GSLK-Mk3-D2, which is going to launch GSAT-29. Then we are going to have a host of GSLV missions like DigiSat and high resolution remote sensing satellites," Sivan said.

"We have another GSLV mission, whioch is going to have GSAT-7A. Then we have Chandrayaan-2 mission in October period. Along with that we have technology demonstration for future missions," he said. The NavIC constellation is really going to create history and make innovative applications to the entire community in the ocean-based services especially for the underserved and unserved, Sivan said.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) is a constellation of seven satellites that provides indigenously developed regional GPS services called NavIC. "Very recently using the NavIC applications we have created an app that will be released very soon. I request industry and institutions to come forward to take these applications to the user community," the ISRO chief said.

He lauded the team for working tirelessly to make the PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I a success after a major GSLV mission. "Today is really a wonderful day for all of us. We have achieved a precise mission. After a major GSLV mission, 14 days back, we have successfully launched IRNSS-1I.

"I must congratulate the entire ISRO team for this wonderful achievement. Essentially in the last 14 days the entire ISRO community worked tirelessly to achieve this mission," Sivan said. For the launch vehicle, ISRO had adopted a new technology, which would help improve the productivity and enhance the capability of the vehicle, he said.

Underlining the significance of navigation satellites, he said ISRO was looking for innovative, cost-effective position-based services to the country, which would have numerous applications.

Navigation satellites are meant to give position information, combining applications like locating fishermen, and during times of disaster, he added. On the status of the recently launched GSAT-6A satellite that lost communication link soon after it was put into orbit, Sivan said the space agency was able to locate the satellite and track its movements.

"Engineers were working 24X7 and had been able to locate the satellite. This is a positive step. This gives additional hope that we can establish link," he added. To a query if ISRO was facing a funds crunch, he said it was not the case. "There is no funds crunch. We will ensure the ongoing activities are not affected," Sivan added.

On the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) being critical of NavIC still not being fully operational, after more than 10 years of its launch, he said with the launch of IRNSS-1I, the system was now put in place and the applications would have to be rolled out.

To a question on ISRO getting its basic needs right -- heavy lift rockets, heavier or higher capacity satellites instead of inter-planetary missions, Sivan said work had already started to increase the carrying capacty of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-III to six tonnes.

On the status of resuable launch vehicle project, S Somanath, Director, Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) said the next phase would be to test ground landing.

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