ISRO Had a Successful 2018, but It Wasn’t a Smooth Ride at All
From cricket to butter chicken, from the Taj Mahal to Diwali, over the years we Indians have been enamoured by many things we can boast about to our neighbours. But, the one thing that has recently mesmerised many and made countries like the US and France come to our doorsteps for a helping hand has been India’s space research organisation, ISRO.
In the last few years, ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) has put India on the map of the top space explorers in the world. From the Chandrayaan moon mission to launching the most economical space mission to Mars, the space agency has hit the ball out of the park with its innovative yet economical methods of conducting successful space missions.
2017 was a record-breaking year for ISRO, though 2018 came with its own set of troubles. Here’s a quick review of ISRO’s top achievements and all the bumps that came along the way.
6 Nations Hitching a Ride on ISRO’s Rocket
The year 2018 started with a bang (not to be taken literally) for ISRO when it successfully launched its 100th mission into space with the PSLV-C40. The biggest highlight of this event and what grabbed headlines all over the world was the fact that the Indian rocket carried a total of 31 satellites beyond the atmosphere.
Apart from the 3 Indian satellites, the rocket carried 28 international satellites from 6 other countries, namely Finland, France, Republic of Korea, the United States, Canada and UK. While the USA had 19 satellites on-board the PSLV-C40, the Republic of Korea had 5 and UK, France, Canada and Finland had 1 each.
GSLV–F08 With GSAT-6A Launched
ISRO, after the successful launch of the PSLV-C40 launched another rocket into space after a gap of just a month!
The GSAT-6A, a high power S-band communication satellite was configured to provide a platform for developing technologies with its key responsibility aimed towards providing mobile communication. It carries a mission life of about 10 years.
The launch was a momentous one for ISRO as it marked the agency’s 12th flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-F08.
After its launch the satellite went off the grid as it lost communication with ground control and was supposedly orbiting around the Earth without any navigational assistance from ground control. There was fear that the satellite might crash.
GSAT-6A, Still Lost in Space
Remember the Indian satellite that went missing in April this year, the GSAT-6A? Well, it’s still missing. Since the day ISRO lost communication with the satellite, it has been trying to reconnect with it. Although the effort has been in vain till now.
Though it has been spotted orbiting the Earth by multiple space stations it has been difficult establishing communication with the artificial celestial body.
The GSAT-6A was launched on 29 March and a day after it successfully completed two firing stages it lost connection with ground control. The satellite was to be used to establish satellite-based mobile communications for the Indian military and the Indian government.
According to ISRO, the satellite has a life span of 10 years and can stay in orbit for that long. The total cost of the satellite is 270 crores and weighs about 2-tons. Till ISRO can re-establish a connection with GSAT-6A, it can be considered space debris floating around the Earth at high speeds.
No Rest November
ISRO had big plans for 2018 and there were also rumours that it would launch the second mission to the moon Chandrayaan-2 this year. Sadly, those plans were weighed down due to the agency’s overburdened calendar.
ISRO was busy throughout the year with multiple launches with one of its busiest slotted for the end of the year, namely the launch of the GSAT-29 and the PSLC-C43.
The GSAT-29 was successfully launched into space on Wednesday, 14 November. The satellite was launched with an aim of solving the communication barriers faced by Village Resource Centres (VRCs), which are responsible for providing space-based services to ISRO from rural areas.
The GSAT-29 is a communications satellite which weighs 3,423 kg and has been designed for a mission life of 10 years. It is the heaviest satellite that has been launched from Indian soil till date.
Second Indian Rocket to Carry 31 Satellites!
ISRO has a knack of making the impossible happen. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, it’s said that ISRO gets things done cheap without any of the fallout. It sent an orbiter to Mars at a cheaper cost than what it took to make a movie about landing on Mars! No ‘Martian’ would believe that, right?
It also has a habit of delivering successful launches, which is why countries that want to send their satellites into space get in touch with ISRO to get the job done. In one of its last launches for the year 2018, the agency launched a rocket with 31 satellites on-board equaling the feat it achieved in the beginning of the year.
The PSLV-C43 rocket carried a total payload of 461.5kg, comprising 29 nano satellites, one micro satellite, and the HysIS imaging satellite.
The primary goal of HysIS is to study the earth's surface in visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Being an Earth observation satellite, it will also be used for military purposes.
ISRO has said that the mission life for the PSLV-C43 is five years.
In the past 25 years ISRO has launched almost 52 Indian and 239 foreign satellites into space. The fact that India has a credible name in the space exploration industry speaks volumes of the capabilities of Indian scientists and engineers. So much so, that it is being compared with a premier organisation like SpaceX.
2017 was incredible and 2018 also had its own achievements to boast about. With missions like Chandrayaan-2 and the second edition of Mangalyaan still in the pipeline, 2019 could have a lot of excitement in store for us.