Let’s cover the entire gamut of projects concluded by ISRO in these 2 years.

IRNSS will be covered in a separate article.

GSAT Series

#1. GSAT-6

  • GSAT-6 is the twenty fifth geostationary communication satellite of India built by ISRO and twelfth in the GSAT series
  • Five of GSAT-6’s predecessors were launched by GSLV during 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2014 respectively
  • After its commissioning, GSAT-6 has joined the group of India’s other operational geostationary satellites
  • GSAT-6 Satellite provides communication through five spot beams in S-band and a national beam in C-band for strategic users
  • It was launched using GSLV-D6 (Explained below in GSLV Missions)

#2. GSAT-15

  • It is a high power satellite being inducted into the INSAT/ GSAT system
  • It carries a total of 24 communication transponders in Ku-band as well as a GPS
  • Aided GEO Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands
  • It is the third satellite to carry GAGAN payload after GAST-8 and GSAT-10, which are already providing navigation services from orbit
  • It carries a Ku-band beacon as well to help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite
  • It was launched by Ariane-5 VA-227 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana on early morning of November 11, 2015

#3. GSAT-16

  • GSAT-16, an advanced communication satellite, weighing 3181.6 kg at lift-off, is being inducted into the INSAT-GSAT system
  • GSAT-16 is configured to carry a total of 48 communication transponders, the largest number of transponders carried by a communication satellite developed by ISRO so far, in normal C-band, upper extended C-band and Ku-band
  • GSAT-16 carries a Ku-band beacon as well to help accurately point ground antennas towards the satellite
  • The designed on-orbit operational life of GSAT-16 is 12 years
  • The communication transponders on-board GSAT-16 together ensure continuity of various services currently provided by INSAT-GSAT system and serve as on-orbit spares to meet contingency requirements or for the augmentation of such services
  • GSAT-16 was launched into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by Ariane-5 VA-221 launch vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana
  • GSAT-16 was positioned at 55 deg East longitude in the Geostationary orbit and co-located with GSAT-8, IRNSS-1A and IRNSS-1B satellites


  1. 12 Ku-band transponders each with 36 MHz usable bandwidth with footprint covering Indian mainland and Andaman & Nicobar islands
  2. 24 C-band transponders each with 36 MHz usable bandwidth with footprint covering Indian mainland and island territories
  3. 12 Upper Extended C-band transponders each with 36 MHz usable bandwidth with footprint covering Indian mainland and island territories

PSLV Missions

#1. PSLV C28/ DMC3 Mission: Heaviest commercial mission ever undertaken by ISRO

  • PSLV in its 30th flight (PSLV-C28) launched three identical DMC3 optical earth observation satellites built by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), UK
  • PSLV-C28 was the ninth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration
  • With the overall lift-off mass of the five satellites amounting to about 1440 kg, this mission becomes the heaviest commercial mission ever undertaken by Antrix/ISRO
  • The three DMC3 satellites, each weighing 447 kg, were launched into a 647 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO) using the high-end version of PSLV (PSLV-XL) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota (SDSC-SHAR), the spaceport of India


  1. The DMC3 constellation comprises of three advanced mini-satellites DMC3-1, DMC3-2 and DMC3-3
  2. It is designed to address the need for simultaneous high spatial resolution and high temporal resolution optical Earth Observation
  3. Launched into a single Low-Earth Orbit plane and phased with a separation of 120° between them, these satellites can image any target on the Earth’s surface every day
  4. Major application areas include surveying the resources on earth and its environment, managing urban infrastructure and monitoring of disasters

It also carried two auxiliary satellites from UK:

  1. CBNT-1, an optical technology demonstrator earth observation micro satellite built by SSTL
  2. De-OrbitSail, a technology demonstrator nano satellite built by Surrey Space Centre

#2. PSLV C30/ Astrosat

  • PSLV, in its 31st flight (PSLV-C30), launched Astrosat into a 650 km orbit of 6 deg inclination to the equator
  • Along with Astrosat, six satellites from international customers viz. LAPAN-A2 of Indonesia, NLS-14 (Ev9) of Canada and four identical LEMUR satellites of USA were launched
  • PSLV-C30 is the tenth flight of PSLV in its ‘XL’ Configuration

#3. PSLV C29/ TeLEOS-1 Mission/ 6 Singapore satellites

  • PSLV, in its 32nd flight (PSLV-C29), launched six satellites of Singapore into a 550 km circular orbit inclined at 15 degrees to the equator
  • This is the eleventh flight of PSLV in ‘core-alone’ configuration (without the use of solid strap-on motors)
  • Of these six satellites, TeLEOS-1 is the primary satellite weighing 400 kg
  • The other five are co-passenger satellites which include two micro-satellites and three nano-satellites:
  1. VELOX-CI, micro-satellite
  2. VELOX-II, 6U-Cubesat technology demonstrator
  3. Athenoxat-1, a technology demonstrator nano-satellite
  4. Kent Ridge-1, a micro-satellite
  5. Galassia, 2U-Cubesat

IRNSS Constellation

The recent launches in this series are:

#1. PSLV C-27/ IRNSS-1D

#2. PSLV C-31/ IRNSS-1E

#3. PSLV C32/ IRNSS-1F

#4. PSLV C33/ IRNSS-1G

IRNSS-1G was the 7th and last satellite in the IRNSS constellation.

With this, India has achieved the milestone of being one the very few countries to have its own Positioning System.

[IRNSS will be dealt with in detail in a separate story]

GSLV Missions

#1. GSLV-D6/ GSAT-6

  • GSLV-D6 is the ninth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
  • It is also the fifth developmental flight of GSLV
  • This is the third time the indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) is being carried on-board during a GSLV flight
  • GSLV-D6 flight is significant since it intends to continue the testing of CUS
  • GSLV is designed to inject 2 ton class of communication satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  • GSAT-6 is explained above

#2. GSLV-Mk III: Launching humans into space

  • ISRO killed two birds with one stone when the GSLV Mk3 test with an inert cryogenic stage took off with the CARE (Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment)
  • The module reached an altitude of 80 km and made a successful splash down in the sea using the largest parachutes ever made in the country
  • Once operational, the crew module will host up to three Indian astronauts for orbital missions lasting up to a week in space
  • It will make India only the fourth nation in the world after Russia, US and China to have the ability to send humans into space; maybe even to the moon one day
  • According to ISRO the schedule for sending the first Indian on an Indian rocket is planned for 2021
  • For this, the GSLV Mk3 will have to be man-rated – it has to demonstrate a set number of continuous successful launches

Reusable Launch Vehicle- Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD)

The cost of access to space is the major deterrent in space exploration and space utilization. A reusable launch vehicle is the unanimous solution to achieve low cost, reliable and on-demand space access

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program or RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle.

A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.

2015 Space Pioneer Award

  • Space Pioneer award for the year 2015 was presented to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in the Science and Engineering category during the 34th Annual International Space Development Conference held at Toronto in Canada during May 20 -24, 2015
  • National Space Society (NSS) of USA presented this award in recognition of ISRO’s efforts in accomplishing Mars Mission in its very first attempt
  • In 2009, NSS has presented similar award to ISRO in recognition of the great accomplishment they have made in the success of the Lunar Probe, Chandrayaan-1
  • National Space Society (NSS) is an independent nonprofit educational membership organisation dedicated to the creation of a space faring civilisation

Any doubts?

  1. Profile photo of Gaurav Srivastava Gaurav Srivastava

    What are bands???

  2. Profile photo of Kavya Sri Kavya Sri

    sir please include date of launch it is most important for state psc aspirants

  3. Profile photo of Gautam Gunjan Gautam Gunjan

    What are S bands and why they are said to be national band?

  4. Profile photo of Devesh Tiwari Devesh Tiwari

    Interceptor missile mission a ‘failure’ ??
    are you sure ? please again check this newsfeed
    i guess its an opinion, not a news !

    1. Profile photo of Root Root

      Good catch. A “?” is a better qualifier.

  5. Profile photo of Root Root

    Reusable Launch Vehicle- Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) is the latest achievement in ISRO’s innovations over the last years.

    We updated this story with an exhaustive CD Explains article to consolidate everything in one place.

  6. Profile photo of Rakhi Dwivedi Rakhi Dwivedi

    Very useful Information ,thanks civils daily for making such a huge effort and helping us ….continue your help and maintain your standard of information ,awesome work

    1. Profile photo of Root Root

      Thanks Rakhi. Feel free to add or ask for any information in the community.

  7. Profile photo of Root Root

    The ISRO story updated with a comprehensive Explainer on developments in 2015-16

  8. Profile photo of wara 36 wara 36

    respected admin i am just relying on CD for current affairs,,,and ,for GS papers current affair related topics i am preparing from your “stories” option and reading news papers only for editorials will it suffice…for current affairs in CSE…?

    1. Profile photo of Root Root


  9. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

    Spell check people. Spell check.

    1. Profile photo of Root Root


      1. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

        Ah huh! You are the only one feeling playful today. I have proof 😛

        1. Profile photo of Root Root

          😉 Corrected in time.

        2. Profile photo of Ankur Yarazarvi Ankur Yarazarvi

          You are not the only one*

          Can’t edit the damned comments.

  10. Profile photo of Purushotam Kumar Purushotam Kumar

    Thanks sir ……

  11. Profile photo of Sadiq Ali S Sadiq Ali S

    you are giving very efficient points thank you sir Keep up the Great work…


    Really good work ! Please continue the same and thanks for your efforts???

  13. Profile photo of Pearlin A.R Mercy Pearlin A.R Mercy

    Its reaily usefull..

  14. Profile photo of raju ganachari raju ganachari

    Articles r tooo good please continue your great work 🙂

  15. Profile photo of Arun Muradnar Arun Muradnar

    S-band :
    S band is part of the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum. It is defined by an IEEE standard for radio waves with frequencies that range from 2 to 4 GHz, crossing the conventional boundary between UHF and SHF at 3.0 GHz.
    The S band is used by weather radar, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites, especially those used by NASA to communicate with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.
    S band is also used in optical communications to refer to the wavelength range 1460 nm to 1530 nm.

    Unified S-band, an S-band communication system used in the Apollo program of manned spaceflight.

  16. Profile photo of Arun Muradnar Arun Muradnar

    L-band –
    L band, as defined by the IEEE, is the 1 to 2 GHz range of the radio spectrum.
    Being a relatively low frequency, L-band is easier to process, requiring less sophisticated and less expensive RF equipment, and due to a wider beam width, the pointing accuracy of the antenna does not have to be as accurate as the higher bands.
    Applications – L-Band is used for low earth orbit satellites, military satellites, and terrestrial wireless connections like GSM mobile phones. It is also used as an intermediate frequency for satellite TV.

  17. Profile photo of rahul mishra rahul mishra

    > Microwave band ranges from 1 GHz to 100 GHz
    > Subdivided into into no. of subbands
    > These codenames originated in 2nd world war > later adopted by IEEE
    > Used in radar, satellite and in aviation technology
    > L band
    (long) 1 – 2
    S band
    (short) 2 – 4
    C band
    (comprise) 4 – 8
    X band 8 – 12
    Ku band
    (Kurze under) 12 – 18
    K band
    (Kurze1) 18 – 27
    Ka band
    (Kurze above) 27 – 40
    V band 40 – 75
    W band 75 – 110

  18. Profile photo of Rini Sen Rini Sen

    Oh boy!

    Cryogenics is the scientific study or production of extremely low temperatures (below –150 °C, –238 °F or 123 K)

    Cryonics is the low-temperature preservation of humans quickly after the cessation of heartbeart in an anticipation of future survival.

  19. Profile photo of Sumer Shah Sumer Shah

    The S band is used by weather radar, surface ship radar, and some communications satellites.
    For ex – Used by NASA to communicate with the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

  20. Profile photo of avaneesh dwivedi avaneesh dwivedi

    Awesome CD
    Your way of providing CA in such a coherent way
    Many many thanks

What ails the Navigation Indian Constellation



The prime objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. NavIC was one such attempt to make India self reliant in GPS systems as during kargil war USA had denied access to its GPS system to India which led to development of NavIC. Important news card as it contains major details regarding NavIC. Bookmark it.

From UPSC perspective, following things are important:

Prelims level: NavIC, GPS, Rubidium and cesium clocks. (Also look at properties of these elements, position in periodic table etc.)

Mains level: NavIC and various other missions of ISRO. (There was a question in Mains 2016 on this topic)


  1. The clocks on the first satellite, IRNSS-1A had failed in June 2016, affecting the accuracy of the “GPS”
  2. ISRO is trying to rectify this problem

What is NavIC?

  1. Navigation Indian Constellation (NavIC) is an independent Indian satellite-based positioning system for critical national applications
  2. NavIC consists of a constellation of seven satellites, three of which are in a geostationary orbit and four in a geosynchronous
  3. Its purpose is to provide ‘reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and neighbourhood’
  4. According to ISRO, the applications of IRNSS are: terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, vehicle tracking and fleet management, terrestrial navigation for hikers and travellers, disaster management, integration with mobile phones, mapping and geodetic data capture and visual and voice navigation for drivers

What’s the problem?

  1. NavIC relies on rubidium clocks as navigation requires the most accurate clocks
  2. This January, the ISRO confirmed that the clocks on the first satellite, IRNSS-1A had failed in June 2016
  3. Though six of the satellites are working fine, the one faulty one means the “GPS” isn’t working as accurately as it ought to be

How’s it being fixed?

  1. ISRO was trying to revive the clocks on 1A
  2. It is also readying one of the two back-up navigation satellites to replace it in space in the second half of this year

Future prospects:

  1. Rubidium clocks were the previous standard in accurate clocks and most organisations, that need precise time estimates, need cesium clocks
  2. Future clocks on such satellites, each with a lifespan of 10 years, will host such clocks

India successfully fires heaviest launch vehicle



Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

The launch of India’s heaviest launch vehicle is an event of great historical importance and significance. Few takeaways are:

Prelims Level: The name of the spacecraft and its details are very important for Prelims. Please go through the ISRO related inventions on the linked newstrail

Mains Level: The newscard also talks about the business opportunities, which should be studied from Mains PoV


  1. India leapfrogged into a select group of nations having their own indigenous cryogenic engine technology
  2. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launched its heaviest launch vehicle, GSLV MkIII-D1
  3. It placed the country’s heaviest satellite till date, GSAT-19, into a precise orbit

What is GSAT-19?

  1. GSAT-19 is a communication satellite
  2. It is expected to enhance India’s communication infrastructure and was placed into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  3. The satellite weighs 3,136 kg
  4. This successful launch will enable India to launch 4-tonne class satellites from India

A Russian design

  1. ISRO has used indigenous cryogenic engines on earlier GSLV flights which were modelled mainly on Russian design
  2. On this GSLV, no technological element was borrowed or adapted from any other space organization

First time success

  1. The cryo stage is a complex technology
  2. It is a world record that while making it for the first time, there were no serious test failures or problems

Business opportunities

  1. The GSAT-19 carries a Ka/Ku-band high throughput communication transponders
  2. It also carries a Geostationary Radiation Spectrometer (GRASP) payload
  3. GRASP monitors and studies the nature of charged particles and the influence of space radiation on satellites and their electronic components
  4. The spacecraft will open up a lot of new vistas in the field of Internet connectivity, broadband connectivity

What is more in the pipeline?

  1. Two launches are coming up, which will happen from Ariane in French Guiana
  2. Work is on to launch two approved missions- Aditya-L1 and Chandrayaan-II- in the next two years
  3. The ‘Aditya-L1’ will be placed in the halo orbit around the Lagrangian point of the Sun-Earth system


A quick go through: Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III

  1. It is a launch vehicle developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
  2. It is intended to launch satellites into geostationary orbit and as a launcher for an Indian crew vehicle
  3. The GSLV-III features an Indian cryogenic third stage and a higher payload capacity than the current GSLV

SAARC satellite to be launched on May 5

  1. What: The “South Asia satellite” being built by India for use by countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region will be launched on May 5
  2. The satellite was announced by Mr. Modi during the 2014 SAARC summit in Nepal and all SAARC countries have since joined it except Pakistan
  3. The total cost of launching the satellite is estimated to be about ₹235 crore and the cost associated with the launch will be met by the Government of India
  4. The satellite called GSAT-09 enables full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. Television, Direct-to-Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and Disaster Management Support
  5. The 2,230 kg satellite was built by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and has 12 Ku-band transponders
  6. It will be launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota using a Geostationary Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-II launch vehicle
  7. The GSLV-F09 is about 50m tall and is the 11th flight of the GSLV. It is also the its fourth consecutive flight with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) engine


This has been in news frequently, and there should not be much new information here.

ISRO plans to mine energy from Moon by 2030 to help meet India needs

  1. What: ISRO plans to mine Helium-3 rich lunar dust, generate energy and transport it back to Earth.
  2. Apart from planning for manned missions to Moon, Mars and even aircraft development, ISRO is now working on a plan to help India meet its energy needs from the Moon by 2030.
  3. This comes in the backdrop of successful testing of lithium-ion batteries developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre by the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI).
  4. This is expected to provide a fillip to India’s electric vehicles (EV) push.
  5. This lunar dust mining plan comes in the backdrop of India’s plan to cut down import dependence in hydrocarbons by 10 percentage points by 2022.
  6. Isro’s success on this front will also help reduce pollutants and India’s fuel imports.
  7. India imports around 80% of its oil and 18% of its natural gas requirements.


Important. Especially for Prelims. ISRO missions and achievements are seen in Prelims nearly every year.


Helium-3 (He3) is gas that has the potential to be used as a fuel in future nuclear fusion power plants. There is very little helium-3 available on the Earth. However, there are thought to be significant supplies on the Moon. Several governments have subsequently signalled their intention to go to the Moon to mine helium-3 as a fuel supply.

After Mars, ISRO turns eye on Venus

  1. What: The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has invited scientists to suggest studies for a potential orbiter mission to Venus – somewhat similar to the one that landed in Mars in 2013
  2. ISRO plans to send a spacecraft that will initially go around Venus in an elliptical orbit (500 km x 60,000 km) before getting closer to the ‘Yellow Planet
  3. The spacecraft will carry a set of instruments weighing 175 kg and using 500W of power
  4. The scientific community has been given a month’s time to suggest space-based studies by May 19
  5. When: A formal mission may not happen before 2020 according to senior officials
  6. A mission must be approved by ISRO’s Advisory Committee on Space Sciences, then the Space Commission and later by the government
  7. Why: the planet, described as Earth’s twin sister, is similar to our planet in size, mass, density, gravity and is also believed to be around 4.5 billion years old
  8. About Venus: Venus, the second planet from the Sun, comes closest to Earth roughly every 583 days, or about 19 months
  9. It is our closest planetary neighbour, and is similar to Earth in many aspects. However, it takes only 225 days to revolve around the Sun. Secondly, the surface is very hot due to nearness to the Sun
  10. Previous Missions: India’s previous and second planetary outing, the record-setting ₹450-crore Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) of 2013, continues to impress
  11. The orbiter is going round the Red Planet even as you read this — well beyond its planned life of six months
  12. MOM was sent on the light-lift PSLV launch vehicle. The more powerful GSLV rocket has started transporting regular communication satellites and may be an option for the Venus mission
  13. An orbiter sent to the Moon in 2008 was delivering data until about three months before its estimated life span came to an end. A second Moon landing mission is planned in early 2018
  14. International Missions: Ever since the then USSR sent the Venera mission to Venus in February 1961, there have been close to 30 missions to the planet, the last one being Japan’s Akatsuki in 2010. These comprised orbiters, landers, atmospheric probes and fly-bys
  15. The erstwhile Soviet Union tops the list with 16 Veneras and two Vegas. The US had Mariner, Pioneer and Magellan missions. New missions are in the pipeline


Questions about space missions are a favorite of UPSC. So make a note of the ones mentioned in the news. Especially by ISRO

ISRO to launch South Asia Satellite on 5 May, Pakistan not on board

  1. India plans to launch on 5 May the ‘South Asia Satellite’ that will benefit all the countries in the region, except Pakistan which is not a part of the project
  2. It will be launched by ISRO on board the space agency’s rocket GSLV-09 from Sriharikota spaceport.
  3. Background: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made an announcement about this satellite during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in 2014 calling it a “gift to India’s neighbours”
  4. Earlier, it was named as ‘SAARC Satellite but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite because Pakistan is not part of it
  5. Purpose: Providing communication and disaster support, connectivity among States (countries of South Asia region)
  6. It will provide a significant capability to each of these participating States in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things
  7. There is a potential for each participating country to use a dedicated transponder with a capacity of 36 to 54 Mhz for its own internal use
  8. Each country would be responsible for content generation and its use


Important for prelims.

Global interest in PSLV soars

  1. The Indian PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) has received more than double its normal share of inquiries from prospective customers ever since it launched a record 104 satellites in a single flight in February
  2. A world best, 101 small foreign commercial spacecraft were taken up at once in that feat, catapulting the PSLV’s overall commercial tally to 180
  3. Steps taken: ISRO is also ramping up availability of the PSLVs
    Antrix has asked for two dedicated PSLVs a year for doing fully commercial launches
  4. Small + LEO: The PSLV, with a near impeccable 37 successes in 39 flights is a clear leader in the category of rockets that lift small satellites to low Earth orbits or LEOs
  5. These satellites weigh up to 500 kg and must be placed in polar orbits 500 km from Earth


Nothing new here. Indian advance in space science and technology. Can be used in mains.

5 new satellites this year to raise ISRO capacity

  1. News: An unprecedented row of five national communication spacecraft is slated to be put in space this year
  2. Tentative schedule:
    • ISRO has lined up the Internet user-friendly GSAT-19 for launch around May
    • GSAT-17 around June
    • GSAT-6A, which like GSAT-6, is for the Defence forces, in September
    • its largest 5,000-plus GSAT-11 around December
    • GSAT-17 and GSAT-11 will be launched on the European Ariane launcher
  3. Significance: It would vastly cut the gap in satellite capacity for different users
  4. Historic and a rarity: Five communication spacecraft spread over less than a year is historic and a rarity for ISRO
  5. All these years, it has launched one or two communication satellites a year
  6. GSAT-18 was the lone communication satellite sent up in late 2016
  7. The first of them, GSAT-9 or the South Asia Satellite, will kick off the serial launches in the first half of April from the Sriharikota space port
  8. GSAT-9 will ride on indigenous GSLV
  9. Problem: For several years now, the space agency has been beset with a capacity deficit
  10. The deficit is caused by launch failures in which satellites were destroyed; and a galloping demand from public and private sector users
  11. Solution: New satellites that are constantly put up for approval could ease up the scene in the next two to three years
  12. ISRO has been taking conscious action to improve its overall communication transponders capacity


Important for prelims as well as for mains.

[pib] What is NISAR?

  1. ISRO and Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)/ NASA are jointly working on the development of Dual Frequency (L & S band) Synthetic Aperture Radar Imaging Satellite named as NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR)
  2. The L-band SAR is being developed by JPL/NASA, while ISRO is developing S-band SAR
  3. The L & S band microwave data obtained from this satellite will be useful for variety of application
  4. Applications:
  • Natural resources mapping & monitoring
  • Estimating agricultural biomass over full duration of crop cycle
  • Assessing soil moisture
  • Monitoring of floods and oil slicks
  • Coastal erosion, coastline changes & variation of winds in coastal waters
  • Assessment of mangroves
  • Surface deformation studies, ice sheet collapses & dynamics etc.
  • Identifying crevasses in the glaciers hidden by fresh snow, where human movement takes place
  • Identifying the snowpack parameters as an input in Avalanche forecasts
  • Studying Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF) hazards
  • Identifying inundated area due to floods/ cyclones
  • The data obtained from NISAR mission is not meant for building climate resilience



Remember the points for Prelims.


[op-ed snap] Working on the ISRO principle


  1. With the launch of 104 satellites from a single rocket on Wednesday, ISRO has now set the global standard in a field which only a few nations even dare to dabble
  2. The reasons that are at ISRO’s advantage are: autonomy, good location, human capital

More autonomy:

  1. ISRO is fortunate that it reports to the Prime Minister and his office rather than a line ministry. This has been critical to its success
  2. In line ministries, ministers and bureaucrats have a tendency to micromanage their turf, and this includes autonomous bodies, agencies and enterprises
  3. More often than not, there will be a senior official along with a set of junior officials who have direct charge of supervising the affairs of an agency
  4. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) works differently given that its remit cuts across all government departments
  5. Its officials would certainly not have the time or the mindspace to supervise the affairs of a single institution
  6. ISRO, therefore, has a real autonomy that most other government agencies do not

Location matters:

  1. The geographical location of the organisation also matters in terms of creating an appropriate ecosystem to nurture excellence
  2. A number of critical government-run organisations and enterprises are either headquartered in Delhi (because it’s the seat of the Union Government) or are in places that have had some political salience to the ruling dispensation at the time they were set up
  3. Neither scenario may be optimal from the point of view of an agency
  4. Being located in Delhi will leave it particularly vulnerable to the diktats of the parent ministry and the slow-moving, cautious culture of an omnipresent bureaucracy
  5. And a politically salient location outside Delhi may not have the ecosystem to feed knowledge creation and build capabilities
  6. ISRO, headquartered in Bengaluru, is distant from Delhi and immune from the capital’s drawbacks
  7. More importantly, it is located in the appropriate geography in what is India’s science and technology hub
  8. It has the right ecosystem to attract talent and build its knowledge capabilities more than most government agencies do

Human capital:

  1. Human capital is critical to the success of an organization
  2. Unlike many government agencies which are staffed by generalists, ISRO is staffed by specialists right from its technocratic top management
  3. ISRO is also more agnostic than most government agencies about cooperating with and working with the best in the private sector
  4. The building blocks of many of ISRO’s successes come from outside the government system

Learning from ISRO’s example:

  1. Learning the right lessons from ISRO’s example is crucial for India
  2. The conventional view is that the government is poor in project execution and if one looks at the state of infrastructure or of the quality of public services that is not an unreasonable conclusion to reach
  3. ISRO shows that it is possible, indeed feasible, for the government to build high-performing organisations/agencies
  4. It is an argument for building top quality institutions in a limited number of areas where the government’s role cannot be substituted by the private sector
  5. Cutting-edge research and development in spheres where there may not be ready profits is one area the government should focus on building ISRO-like institutions. Defence could be one such
  6. A completely reformed Defence Research and Development Organisation based out of Pune or Bengaluru (not Delhi) which reports to the PMO and which actively collaborates with the private sector would be worth considering
  7. Or a central vaccine agency, based in Ahmedabad or Pune, which focusses on solutions to under-researched diseases
  8. Independence from line ministries is important for a high performing organization
  9. The creation of high performing government bodies requires starting from scratch and focussing on a few basics: real autonomy from ministries, right geographical location/appropriate ecosystem, a team of specialists, partnership with the private sector and operating only in spheres where there is no alternative to government


The op-ed is important for Mains answer. It is important to understand how a government deprment work wonders if a right approach is followed.

ISRO plans SAARC satellite launch in March, Chandrayaan–2 in early 2018

  1. News: ISRO is planning to launch two satellites, including the one meant for the benefit of SAARC nations, in March and April this year
  2. The GSLV MARK II will carry the SAARC satellite, and the GSLV MARK III will inject the GSAT-19, a communication satellite
  3. SAARC: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during the SAARC summit at Nepal in November 2014, had announced launching of a SAARC satellite as a gift for the benefit of members of the regional grouping in various fields, including telecommunication and telemedicine
  4. No Pak: Since Pakistan has ‘opted out’ of the project, the SAARC satellite is now being called the South Asian satellite
  5. Chandrayaan–2: The target is first quarter of 2018 for the launch
  6. It is India’s second mission to the Moon, is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1
  7. It consists of an orbiter, lander and rover
  8. The orbiter with scientific payloads will orbit around the Moon
  9. The lander will soft-land on the Moon at a specified site and deploy the rover
  10. The scientific payloads onboard the orbiter, lander and rover are expected to perform mineralogical and elemental studies of the lunar surface
  11. In CARTOSAT series of earth observation satellites, there is a proposal to launch the CARTOSAT-2E in April


Important for prelims; not that when they’ll be launched but that what are the satellites, their purposes, and basics about SAARC satellite, Chandrayaan, CARTOSAT.

Q. Consider the following statements: [Prelims-2016]
The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO

1. is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
2. made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
3. made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit the Mars in its very first attempt

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 1 and 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Answer: (c)

Q. With reference to `Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct? [Prelims-2016]

1. Other than USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.
2. Astrosat is a 2000 kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650 km above the surface of the Earth.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (d)

[op-ed snap] ISRO sets the bar high


  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation boosted its reputation further when it successfully launched a record 104 satellites in one mission from Sriharikota on Wednesday
  2. All launches were made by its workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket


  1. An earth observation Cartosat-2 series satellite and two other Nano satellites were the only Indian satellites launched
  2. The remaining were from the United States, Israel, the UAE, the Netherlands, Kazakhstan and Switzerland
  3. Of the 101 foreign satellites launched, 96 were from the U.S. and one each from the other five countries

Setting the record:

  1. Till now Russia held the record of launching 37 satellites in a single mission, in 2014
  2. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the U.S. launched 29 satellites in one go in 2013
  3. Last June, ISRO had come close to NASA’s record by launching 20 satellites in one mission
  4. But ISRO views the launch not as a mission to set a world record but as an opportunity to make full use of the capacity of the launch vehicle

Significance of the launch:

  1. The launch is particularly significant as ISRO now cements its position as a key player in the lucrative commercial space launch market by providing a cheaper yet highly reliable alternative
  2. At an orbital altitude of around 500 km, the vehicle takes about 90 minutes to complete one orbit
  3. Though ISRO had sufficient time to put the satellites into orbit, it accomplished the task in about 12 minutes
  4. With the focus on ensuring that no two satellites collided with each other, the satellites were injected in pairs in opposite directions
  5. Successive pairs of satellites were launched once the vehicle rotated by a few degrees, thereby changing the separation angle and time of separation to prevent any collision

Indian Satellites:

  1. ISRO plans to launch more Cartosat-2 series satellites and even an improved version
  2. The two nano satellites weigh less than 10 kg
  3. It is a technology demonstrator for a new class of satellites called ISRO nano satellites (INS)
  4. The main objective of the INS, is to provide a platform on which payloads up to 5 kg from universities and R&D laboratories, and ISRO itself can be easily integrated for carrying out scientific research activities
  5. With many Indian universities already building and launching Nano satellites, the availability of a dedicated Nano satellites platform is sure to boost space research in India.


This is a very important event in the history of ISRO. The UPSC can ask questions about this proud moment in both Prelims and Mains.

Indian PSLV rocket lifts off with 104 satellites

Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket lifted off successfully with a record 104 satellites, including the country’s earth observation satellite Cartosat-2 series


It is very important for prelims as it is a world record of satellite launch. It has been covered here. Do also check the links given in the article that this link will redirect you to, to cover the topic in detail.

ISRO to use India’s satellite navigation system

  1. ISRO’s bid to script space history by sending 104 satellites into orbit using a single launcher on February 15 will depend on critical support provided by India’s own satellite navigation system
  2. The milestone mission, PSLV- C37, will use the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)
  3. Use of IRNSS: To determine the orbit of each satellite injected from the launch vehicle at a height of more than 500 km from the earth’s surface
  4. Independent: By turning to IRNSS, we are shedding our dependence on the Global Positioning System (GPS) that was being used for orbit determination in previous missions
  5. Precise computation: The PSLV- C36 mission last December had successfully demonstrated the use of IRNSS data for precise computation of satellite orbit


A prelims worthy info. Also know about IRNSS here and the record launch of ISRO’s PSLV C-37 here + here. Click on the ISRO Missions and Discoveries title to see previous news.

[pib] Launching of Advanced and Heaviest Spacecraft

  1. The GSAT-11 with its lift-off mass of about 5600 Kg is the heaviest communication spacecraft to be launched in the year 2017
  2. GSAT-11 is planned to be launched using Ariane-5 launch vehicle
  3. GSAT-11 is a multi-beam satellite with 32 user beams and 8 hub beams operating over India in Ka/Ku bands employing frequency reuse technique
  4. It will provide higher capacity for interactive applications using VSAT terminals compared to older generation three tonne INSAT/GSAT spacecrafts


Note down the points for Prelims exam. Also be aware of the applications in case you face question like this one- Discuss India’s achievements in the field of space science and technology. How the application of his technology has helped India in its socio-economic development? [Mains-2016]


[pib] ISRO Rover on Lunar Surface


  1. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to deploy a rover on the lunar surface in the Chandrayaan-2 mission


  1. The Chandrayaan-2, India’s second mission to the Moon, is a totally indigenous mission comprising of an Orbiter, Lander and Rover
  2. After reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the Lander housing the Rover will separate from the Orbiter
  3. After a controlled descent, the Lander will soft land on the lunar surface at a specified site and deploy a Rover

The Rover:

  1. The six-wheeled Rover will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands
  2. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the lunar soil
  3. Collection of soil and rock sediments is not planned in this mission


The PIB is important for Prelims.


In ISRO’s launch of 104 satellites next week, 88 will be from U.S.

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is on the cusp of making history when it sends 104 satellites into orbit on its PSLV-C37 rocket on February 15
  2. The PSLV will carry a main remote-sensing satellite in the Cartosat-2 series and two small spacecraft, all for ISRO, and 101 small foreign commercial satellites
  3. Only three of them are Indian satellites
  4. Planet: A single U.S. Earth imaging company, Planet, has made an eye-popping bulk booking for 88 of its small ‘cubesats’
  5. The 88 cubesats are part of Planet’s earth observation constellation of 100 satellites
    They weigh around 5 kg each and are called ‘Doves’ or Flock 3p
  6. For California-based Planet, too, it will be the record largest number of cubesats to be flown in a single launch
  7. Cartosat-2: The main passenger on PSLV-C37 will be the fourth in the Cartosat-2 series, a very high resolution Earth observation satellite of about 650 kg, and occupies roughly half the space in the launch vehicle
  8. INS-1: It will carry two more Indian nano satellites, INS-1A and INS-1B, each weighing about 10 kg
  9. They have a short lifespan of six to 12 months
  10. The other co-riders are cubesats or small specialised satellites of customers from Israel, the UAE, Kazakhstan, the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany
  11. Earlier: No space agency has launched such a large number of satellites in a single flight so far
  12. While ISRO’s PSLV launched 20 satellites last year, Russia’s Dnepr launcher holds the record for lifting 37 satellites to orbit in June 2014
  13. Since September 2015, the PSLV has launched 18 small U.S. earth imaging satellites in a total of 79 foreign spacecraft — which earns it some revenue and an increasing global market share.


Very important for prelims. Know about the Indian satellites in detail and just the names of countries flying with this launch.

How ISRO plans to launch 103 satellites on a single rocket

  1. Context: ISRO would launch 103 satellites on a single rocket in one go of its workhorse PSLV (C37) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh
  2. With the exception of three satellites from India, the rest are from other countries
  3. How would it happen? The satellites will be separated from the launch vehicle in different directions
  4. The separation angle and time of separation will be such that one satellite will not collide with another
  5. The satellite separated from the launch vehicle will have a relative velocity of one metre per second
  6. So after 1,000 seconds the distance between a satellite and the rocket will be 1,000 metres
  7. The satellite that gets launched first will move at a relatively faster velocity than the next satellite that is launched
  8. Due to different relative velocities, the distance between the satellites will increases continuously but the orbit will be the same
  9. Even one degree difference in separation angle combined with relative velocity will ensure that no two satellites would collide
  10. The satellites will be injected into orbit at different locations at different angles, at different times and different orientations
  11. Earlier: In June 2016, ISRO launched 20 satellites in one go. It took about 26 minutes to launch all the 20 satellites
  12. In 2008, ISRO launched 10 satellites in a single mission
  13. Records: The highest number of satellites launched in a single mission so far has been 37 by Russia in 2014
  14. NASA launched 29 satellites in one go in 2013.


This is a prelims worthy info. Need not go into technical details. This milestone can also be quoted in mains answer or essays.

[pib] MoU between the ISRO and the JAXA for cooperation in the field of outer space

  1. Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed at Tokyo, Japan between the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for cooperation in the field of outer space
  2. Purpose: to pursue future cooperative activities in the exploration
  3. Use of outer space exclusively for peaceful purposes in accordance with the laws and regulations applicable in each country and their international obligations
  4. The MoU provides scope for pursuing cooperation in various areas of space science technology and applications including: earth observation, satellite communication and navigation; exploration and space sciences; Research and development (space systems and space technology); and Space industry promotion


Note down the purpose of this MOU and also check points in b2b for your Prelims exam.


  1. India and Japan pursue space cooperation for more than 5 decades and carried out studies in the field of atmospheric study, observation of universe and scientific investigation in remote sensing
  2. With the formation of JAXA in 2003, an “arrangement concerning the considerations of potential future cooperation in the field of outer space” was signed in October 2005 between ISRO/ Department of Space (DOS) and JAXA
  3. Subsequently both agencies have signed cooperative documents addressing lunar exploration, satellite navigation, X-ray astronomy and Asia Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF)
  4. During the ISRO-JAXA bilateral meeting held at New Delhi on April 05, 2016, both sides stressed the need for updating the contents of ‘2005 Arrangement’ with enhanced scope of cooperation
  5. Accordingly, both sides have arrived at the draft of new ‘MoU between ISRO and JAXA concerning cooperation in the field of outer space’

ISRO to launch record 103 satellites at one go in February

  1. What: ISRO will launch a record 103 satellites — 100 of them foreign — at one go on a single rocket in the first week of Feb in what will be a major feat not attempted by any country
  2. India is looking to grab a larger slice of the lucrative commercial space market
  3. The launch will be a major feat in country’s space history as no exercise on this scale has been attempted before
  4. Last year, ISRO launched record 20 satellites at one go
  5. The highest number of satellites launched in a single mission is 37, a record that Russia set in 2014. The US space agency NASA launched 29
  6. PM Modi’s pet South Asian satellite project, meanwhile, will take off in March
  7. Envisaged as a gift to its neighbours, the project, earlier known as SAARC satellite, faced stiff resistance from Pakistan
  8. The neighbouring country wanted it to be launched under the aegis of the South Asian regional forum. It later backed out of the project
  9. Apart from India, the satellite will benefit Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan
  10. India is also in talks with Afghanistan


PM Modi, during the SAARC summit in Nepal in Nov 2014, had announced launching of a SAARC satellite as a gift for the benefit of members of the regional grouping in various fields, including telecommunication and tele-medicine. Since Pakistan has ‘opted out’ of the project, it is now being called South Asian satellite.


[pib] Year End review: Department of Space

  1. PSLV-C31/IRNSS-1E Mission
  2. PSLV-C32/IRNSS-1F Mission
  3. PSLV-C33/IRNSS-1G Mission: In this flight, PSLV launched the seventh and the last satellite IRNSS-1G of the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) constellation
  4. Narendra Modi dedicated IRNSS to the nation as ‘NavIC’ (Navigation Indian Constellation)
  5. This is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland
  6. IRNSS provides two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Services (SPS) – provided to all users and Restricted Services (RS) – provided to authorised users only
  7. Reusable Launch Vehicle – Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD): India’s first winged body aerospace vehicle
  8. PSLV-C34/Cartosat-2 Series Mission: PSLV-C34 successfully launched 20 satellites in a single mission
  9. It included India’s CARTOSAT-2 series of satellite (weighing 727 kg) as primary payload and two academic institutes’ satellites, namely, SWAYAM and SATHYABAMASAT
  10. INSAT-3DR is a follow-on meteorological satellite to INSAT-3D
  11. India is the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of Scramjet Engine
  12. The satellite is configured with three-tier imaging capability consisting of three solid-state cameras, viz., LISS-IV, LISS-III and an Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS)
  13. GSAT-18: The 3405 kg communication satellite GSAT-18, launched by European Ariane V
  14. Disaster Management Support (DMS)


The various space technologies launched are an indication of the growth and advancement of the country in the space technology. Make a note of these.


Isro will outsource satellite making to private consortium

  1. What: ISRO will outsource the manufacture of two navigation satellites (Navic satellites) to a consortium of private firms
  2. This will be its first major attempt to share its expertise in satellite making technology
  3. Advantage: It could potentially allow the country to emerge as a major global hub for producing satellites
  4. It will also share the knowhow for building ground equipment that captures satellite data and process them for specific local applications
  5. For India, space is emerging as the next growth opportunity
  6. There is a global glut of private satellite companies who are looking for outside expertise to build hundreds of small satellites and launching them on rocket
  7. Other developments: ISRO also has set Jan 20 as the date to launch its heaviest rocket – GSLV Mk-III
  8. If successful it would be the vehicle for the country’s manned mission, currently pending approval from the govt


Transferring technology to the private sector is a more efficient way of commercializing such technologies. It is an important step towards developing a world class industry in the space sector.

[pib] PSLV-C36 Successfully Launches RESOURCESAT-2A Remote Sensing Satellite

  1. RESOURCESAT-2A, a remote sensing satellite launched
  2. The data sent by RESOURCESAT-2A will be useful for agricultural applications like crop area and crop production estimation, drought monitoring, soil mapping, cropping system analysis and farm advisories generation
  3. Like its predecessors RESOURCESAT-1 and 2, RESOURCESAT-2A has a 3-Tier imaging system with Advanced Wide Field Sensor (AWiFS), Linear Imaging Self Scanner-3 (LISS-3) and Linear Imaging Self Scanner-4 (LISS-4) cameras


Question on satellite is one of the favourites of UPSC in Prelims. Focus on what this satellite is and what it does. We have linked it to ISRO’s story so that you can revisit it again.


Remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A launched

  1. What: Remote sensing satellite Resourcesat-2A was launched aboard the PSLV-C36
  2. Where: From Sriharikota launch centre


It is easy to guess from the name of the satellite itself what its purpose is – it looks for resources, hence it must a type of remote sensing satellite. Details about ISRO activities are important for prelims.


1. Remote sensing usually refers to the technology of acquiring information about the earth’s surface (land and ocean) and atmosphere using sensors onboard airborne (aircraft, balloons) or spaceborne (satellites, space shuttles) platforms.

2. The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), is an expendable launch system developed and operated by ISRO. It has been in service for over twenty years and has launched various satellites for historic missions like Chandrayaan-1, Mars Orbiter Mission, Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) etc.

3. Sriharikota is a barrier island off the Bay of Bengal coast located in Andhra Pradesh. It houses the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, one of the two satellite launch centers in India with the other being the Thumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in Thiruvananthapuram.

ISRO starts landing tests for Chandrayaan-2 mission

  1. Event: ISRO has started a series of ground and aerial tests linked to the critical Moon landing of Chandrayaan-2
  2. How: It has artificially created close to ten craters to simulate the lunar terrain and test the Lander’s sensors
  3. Where: ISRO, along with a host of other scientific and strategic agencies, owns vast land for its future missions at Challakere, in a ‘Science City’
  4. When: Chandrayaan-2 is tentatively set for late 2017 or early 2018 and includes soft-landing on Moon and moving a rover on its surface

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites- III

  1. Trend: Going small was in tune with the global trend and a logical extension of what we are already doing since a decade
  2. The ISRO’s own remote-sensing satellites have been getting progressively smaller, from close to 1,000 kg to the recent 370-kg Scatsat-1 to monitor ocean weather
  3. New ideas: Student satellite projects come up with interesting and relevant experiments and need to be encouraged

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites- II

  1. Nano: It also plans to build 10 kg or smaller nano and micro satellites using a 100 kg IMS-1 platform
  2. This will offer ready and reliable micro and nano satellite ‘shells’ on which the IITs, universities and even start-ups can put their experimental payloads or devices
  3. IMS stands for 80 kg Indian Mini Satellite, launched in 2008
  4. Saving time: The idea is to encourage users to save time to import a suitable small satellite and instead focus on test novel concepts on the satellites

ISRO has plans to go small with lighter satellites

  1. ISRO has also firmed up a strategy to a make increasingly smaller satellites for earth observation and scientific, experimental and other missions
  2. This comes, even as it moves into making heavier communication spacecraft weighing 4,000 kg to 6,000 kg
  3. The plan for small satellites is two-pronged and can range from 10 kg ‘micros’ to 300 kg-500 kg ‘minis’
  4. Mini: A series of 350-kg ‘mini’ satellites, probably with high resolution cameras and innovative features, will be built in the near future for the ISRO’s own remote-sensing uses
  5. They will be built on the decade-old IMS-2 platform on which the ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) has earlier brought out half a dozen EO (earth observation) satellites

ISRO gears up for critical crew rescue test

  1. ISRO is gearing up to conduct a critical crew bailout test, known as ‘Pad Abort’
  2. Aim: To see how fast and effectively the crew module of an intended space mission could punch out from the spacecraft in the event of an emergency
  3. It forms part of a gamut of critical technologies being developed by ISRO as it awaits the nod from the government for the ambitious ‘human in space’ programme

Let’s know more about GSAT-18

  1. Designed to provide continuity of services on operational satellites in C-band, Extended C-band and Ku-bands
  2. Carries 48 communication transponders to provide Services in Normal C-band, Upper Extended C-band and Ku-bands of the frequency spectrum
  3. Ku-band beacon: To help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite
  4. Orbit: Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  5. Operational life: About 15 years
  6. Launch mass: 3404 kg

Communication satellite GSAT-18 successfully launched

  1. Communication satellite GSAT-18 was successfully launched from the European launcher Ariane-5 VA-231 of Kourou in French Guiana
  2. The GSAT-18, built by ISRO, aims at providing telecommunications services for the country by strengthening ISRO’s current fleet of 14 operational telecommunication satellites

Why do we need mega launchers?

  1. The high-power local capability is needed as Indian communication satellites move towards 5,000-plus kg and more from 2017
  2. By then, ISRO plans to build and launch its heaviest 5,700-kg GSAT-11 spacecraft, although on a European Ariane rocket for a big fee
  3. Its present rockets can lift only up to 2,000 kg to this orbit

Using mega launcher with GSLV Mark-III

  1. ISRO is gearing up for first test flight of the GSLV Mark-III vehicle in December with a 4,000-kg payload
  2. It is planning to use SCE-200 on Mark-III
  3. This would readily boost Mk-III’s maximum lifting capability from 4,000 kg to 6,000 kg
  4. Two years thereafter, around 2020, this will be enhanced to 15,000 kg by putting strap-ons in clusters — the stage where major European and U.S. launch providers already are
  5. The engine will use space-grade kerosene as fuel and liquid oxygen as oxidiser
  6. Apart from powering rockets to lift heavier satellites, it will also effectively lower the cost per kilogram to reach orbits, which is the goal of all space-faring nations

Mega launchers for ISRO soon- I

  1. SCE-200: An advanced Indian mega space launcher, likely to power ISRO’s launchers by around 2018
  2. It can deliver ten-tonne and heavier communication satellites to space and using a semi-cryogenic engine
  3. Currently, the government has approved the development of the semi-cryogenic stage alone
  4. When fitted suitably into a launch vehicle, it will see India putting satellites of the class of 6,000 to 10,000 kilos, or with some variations, lift even 15,000-kg payloads, to geostationary transfer orbits at 36,000 km
  5. The engine is expected to triple or quadruple ISRO’s transportation ability
  6. ISRO has just achieved the GSLV capacity for lifting 2,000-kg payloads

The satellites on board PSLV-C35

  1. SCATSAT-1: To help provide weather forecasting services, cyclone detection and tracking; has a design life of 15 years
  2. PISAT: Developed by students of PES University, Bengaluru, carries an imaging camera as payload to capture imagery of 185 km x 135 km area with about 80m/pixel resolution
  3. PRATHAM: Another student satellite developed by IIT Bombay
  4. Algeria: ALSAT-1B, ALSAT-2B and ALSAT-1N
  5. Pathfinder-1 and NLS-19, from the USA and Canada

Let’s know more about missions of India’s workhorse

  1. C-35 was the 15th flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors
  2. The PSLV has so far launched 39 remote-sensing satellites of ISRO, including the Chandrayaan-1 of 2008 and the Mars mission of 2013-14
  3. It has also orbited 74 foreign commercial and university satellites in a global trend where the demand for its category of launch services is increasing

The longest ever flight of India’s workhorse- I

  1. News: Today, India’s workhorse PSLV, for the first time, injected eight different satellites, including weather satellite SCATSAT-1, into two different orbits
  2. The PSLV-C35 was launched from the first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota
  3. The total weight of all the eight satellites is about 675 kg.
  4. The SCATSAT-1 was released first into a 730 km Polar Sun synchronous Orbit (SSO) after about 17 minutes
  5. The rest was injected into a lower orbit of 689 km after around two hours

Let’s know more about PSLV

PSLV is capable of launching 1600 kg satellites in 620 km sun-synchronous polar orbit and 1050 kg satellite in geosynchronous transfer orbit.

  1. PSLV has 4 stages using solid and liquid propulsion systems alternately.
  2. The first stage is one of the largest solid propellant boosters in the world and carries 139 tonnes of propellant.
  3. So far, PSLV has launched 87 satellites.
  4. There are currently 3 operational versions of the PSLV —
  • Standard (PSLV)
  • Core-alone (PSLV-CA) without the six strap-on booster motors
  • PSLV-XL version, which carries more solid fuel in its strap-on motors than the standard version

Sept 26 PSLV launch to be doubly special- II

  1. Only the main passenger, ISRO’s 370-kg Scatsat-1 ocean and weather tracker, will get off first at a slightly higher orbit at 720 km
  2. It will be out in the first 17 minutes, as is customary
  3. The remaining smaller satellites, weighing between 5 kg and 110 kg, will be ejected at 670 km — but after about two hours

Sept 26 PSLV launch to be doubly special- I

  1. Two orbit placement: The PSLV satellite launcher will for the first time place its multiple passengers in two different orbits
  2. Longest time: The flight is also significant as it will last two hours and 15 minutes, making it the PSLV’s longest ever
  3. A routine PSLV launch lasts about 20 minutes
  4. Three Indian and five foreign commercial spacecraft will ride in it together

UPSC has been asking questions related to such major developments so this is the best time to revise ISRO’s Space Programme through the explainer in this very story

With reference to ‘Astrosat’, the astronomical observatory launched by India, which of the following statements is/are correct? [Prelims 2016]

1- Other than USA and Russia, India is the only country to have launched a similar observatory into space.
2- Astrosat is a 2000 kg satellite placed in an orbit at 1650 km above the surface of the Earth.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

GSAT-11 to be launched in early 2017

  1. GSAT-11: India’s advanced and heaviest communication spacecraft to date at 5,700 kg
  2. Will be launched early next year on the European Ariane launch vehicle
  3. A high-throughput satellite with multi-spot beam coverage of the country
  4. Will be far superior to the older generation three-tonne INSAT/GSAT spacecraft
  5. Designed to generate a bandwidth of more than 12 gbps primarily for users of Internet driven services, VSAT operations and rural connectivity

About Chandrayaan-2 Rover

  1. It will have six wheels, made of aluminium, to move about on the lunar soil
  2. The wheels will interact in such a way that the rover does not sink
  3. The rover will move at a speed of two cm a second and it weighs 25kg
  4. Its lifetime on the moon is 14 earth days
  5. Two payloads: For analysing the soil’s chemical properties

About Chandrayaan-2 Mission

  1. A GSLV-Mk II vehicle will put Chandrayaan-2 with a lander and a rover into orbit in the first quarter of 2018
  2. Totally indigenous: The vehicle, the spacecraft, the lander and the rover are all made in India
  3. The orbiter (spacecraft), the lander and rover together will weigh 3,280 kg
  4. After the spacecraft is inserted into the lunar orbit, the lander with the rover inside it will separate and land softly on the moon’s surface

Road clear for Chandrayaan-2

  1. The significance of the GSLV-F05 mission’s success is that the rocket is now more than qualified to put Chandrayaan-2 into orbit
  2. The interfaces between GSLV-Mk II and Chandrayaan-2 have already been finalised

Learn about Cryogenic Engine

  1. A rocket engine which uses cryogenic propellant is called cryogenic engine
  2. Propellants: It uses Liquid Hydrogen as fuel at -253 degrees C and Liquid Oxygen at -193 degrees C as oxidizer
  3. This generates very high specific impulse with best performance index
  4. The thermal energy from cryogenic combustion is in the form of hot gases
  5. Hot gases expand and provide the thrust to carry the heavier payload

ISRO’s future plans- Venus, asteroids

  1. Missions: The ISRO is mulling over missions to Venus or an asteroid, apart from a second mission to Mars
  2. ISRO also has a number of launches in the coming years including the Chandrayaan-2 and a joint mission with NASA
  3. GSLV: Following the successful launch of GSLV-F05, ISRO plans to launch at least two GSLV Mark II missions every year
  4. ISRO now expects the GSLV to pick up business like the PSLV
  5. Cryogenic stage: It has settled into a system today & we have mastered the technology
  6. Engine: ISRO is developing another engine, C-25, that will be twice as powerful as the current one

INSAT-3DR: Major users and coverage

  1. Major users: Indian Coast Guards, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Shipping, Defence Services and fishermen
  2. The Indian service region will cover a large part of the Indian Ocean
  3. Will also include Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Tanzania for providing distress alert services

INSAT-3DR: Four payloads and multiple tasks

  1. Multi-spectral Imager: Generate images of the Earth from a geostationary altitude of 36,000 km every 26 minutes and provide information on parameters such as sea surface temperature, snow cover, cloud motion winds, among others
  2. 19 channel sounder: Provide information on the vertical profiles of temperature, humidity and integrated ozone
  3. Data Relay Transponder: Provide service continuity to ISRO’s previous meteorological missions
  4. Search and Rescue: Can pick up and relay alert signals originating from the distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land-based users to the Indian Mission Control Centre (INMCC)

GSLV puts satellite in precise orbit

  1. News: GSLV-F05 put the INSAT-3DR, an advanced weather satellite with four payloads, into a precise Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO)
  2. It also marked a hat-trick of successful launches for the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
  3. This is the third consecutive flight of the GSLV Mark II with our indigenous cryogenic upper stage engine

ISRO to launch two satellites in September

  1. INSAT-3DR: A follow-on to INSAT-3D which entered space in 2013 from French Guiana
  2. The launch of GSLV Mark II carrying the geostationary weather satellite INSAT-3DR was earlier postponed due to a technical issue found in a satellite component while carrying out tests
  3. ScatSat: An indigenously developed weather forecasting satellite
  4. It will also have the capability to monitor sea surface winds and predict cyclones
  5. PSLV will be used to launch this satellite that is expected to replace Oceansat-2 which is completing its lifespan

ISRO plans record 68 satellites’ launch in one mission next year

  1. The satellites will be nano in nature from foreign countries
  2. Background: Setting a record in its space programme, ISRO in June had successfully launched 20 satellites, including earth observation Cartosat-2 series, in a single mission on board ISRO’s workhorse PSLV-C34 from the spaceport in Sriharkota
  3. It had earlier sent 10 satellites into orbit in a single mission in 2008

Why scramjet?

  1. It contributes to smaller launch vehicles with more payload capacity and promises cheaper access to outer space
  2. While conventional rocket engines need to carry both fuel and oxidiser on board for combustion to produce thrust, scramjets obtain oxygen from the atmosphere by compressing the incoming air before combustion at hypersonic speed
  3. It can also liquefy the oxygen and store it on board
  4. Also, the post-flight analysis of the RLV-TD test flight (utilising scramjet technology) had shown encouraging results

ISRO successfully test-fires scramjet engine

  1. News: The Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV) was successfully flight-tested from the launch pad of the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota
  2. ATV: A sounding rocket (research rocket) with a solid booster carrying advanced scramjet engines
  3. Aim: Realisation of an Air Breathing Propulsion System which uses hydrogen as fuel and oxygen from the atmosphere air as the oxidiser
  4. With this, India became the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of a scramjet engines
  5. This mission is a milestone for ISRO’s future space transportation system

Upcoming ISRO missions

  1. ISRO is set to conduct air-breathing propulsion experiment using its RH-560 rocket fitted with a supersonic combustion ramjet (Scramjet) engine on August 28 from Sriharikota
  2. A GSLV-F05 rocket with an indigenous cryogenic engine would lift-off on September 8
  3. A Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will lift off on September 26
  4. While these three missions would take place from Sriharikota, an Ariane-V launch vehicle from Arianespace will put India’s communication satellite, GSAT-18, into orbit from Kourou in French Guiana on October 4

ScatSat- 1 to help in predicting cyclones

  1. ScatSat-1 satellite: Indigenously developed weather forecasting satellite to monitor sea winds and help predict the genesis of cyclones
  2. The primary payload of ScatSat-1 is a scatterometer – to observe speed and direction of ocean winds
  3. ScatSat -1 will replace Oceansat-2

Doppler radar to boost weather forecasting

  1. ISRO has commissioned a C- band Polarimetric Doppler weather radar (C-DWR) in South India
  2. Data generated by the DWR would be shared with the India Meteorological Department to supplement its prediction
  3. The only other C- DWR in the country is at Cherrapunjee
  4. Two more units are coming up at Bhuj in Gujarat and Gopalpur in Odisha

Satellites launched from PSLV-C34

  1. Primary: Cartosat-2 Series satellite
  2. Sathyabamasat: Satellite of Sathyabama University in Chennai
  3. Swayam: Satellite of the College of Engineering in Pune
  4. Asia: LAPAN-A3 (Indonesia)
  5. Europe: BIROS (Germany), M3MSat (Canada)
  6. North America: SkySat Gen2-1 (USA) of Terra Bela (Google company), GHGSat-D (Canada) and 12 Dove Satellites (USA)

ISRO launches 20 satellites

  1. Milestone: ISRO launched 20 satellites through a single rocket (PSLV-C34), surpassing its 2008 record of launching 10 satellites in a single mission
  2. Earlier: On April 28, 2008, PSLV-C9 rocket launched a Remote Sensing satellite CARTOSAT-2A along with Indian Mini Satellite (IMS-1) and eight nano satellites
  3. Satellites: Cartosat-2 series satellite (primary), 2 satellites from Indian universities & 17 foreign satellites, including one for a Google company
  4. Launch pad: The Satish Dhawan Space Centre
  5. Experiment: ISRO also ignited the 4th stage of the PSLV rocket twice after the separation of satellites

ISRO gears up to test scramjet engine

  1. Context: ISRO will test Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), comprising a scramjet engine hitched to a two-stage sounding rocket (RH- 560)
  2. It is indigenously-developed & based on air-breathing propulsion
  3. The test will take place from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in July
  4. The vehicle is being fabricated at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (Thiruvanathapuram, Kerala) and the ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri

ISRO to test rocket that takes its fuel from air

  1. Context: ISRO is planning to test an air-breathing propulsion system
  2. Aim: To capitalise on the oxygen in the atmosphere instead of liquefied oxygen while in flight (upto 50km from earth’s surface)
  3. Generally: Vehicles used to launch satellites into space use combustion of propellants with oxidiser and fuel
  4. Advantages: Reducing the lift-off mass of the vehicle, increasing the efficiency of the rocket and also make it cost-effective
  5. It would also complement ISRO’s aim to develop a reusable launch vehicle, which would have longer flight duration

ISRO’s quest for a space shuttle

  1. Context: The test flight of the RLV-TD represent a first step towards the ISRO programme to master the reusable launch vehicle technology
  2. Hypersonic Flight Experiment: The first of a sequence of four test flights to validate various technologies
  3. Designed and developed by Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC)
  4. Features: 1.75 tonnes weight, uses a thermal protection system (TPS) and a Carbon-Carbon nose cap to withstand the high temperature during atmospheric re-entry
  5. Includes the composite movable fin, flush air data system to measure the surface pressure on the aircraft, onboard computer
  6. As also high resolution data acquisition system, lithium ion battery, patch antennas and radar altimeter

New technologies proven

  1. Context: Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) mission successfully launched from Sriharikota
  2. It was the first step towards India achieving a low-cost access to space
  3. Many new technologies have been demonstrated in this mission
  4. Features: Fly at hypersonic speed, reusable thermal protection

The 3 objectives of reusable vehicle test

  1. To test the characterisation of the aero-thermo dynamics of hypersonic flights
  2. To test the autonomous mission management of hypersonic vehicles
  3. To test the necessary re-entry technology for the vehicles

India tests native reusable vehicle

  1. Context: ISRO successfully tested the country’s first winged-body aerospace vehicle
  2. Step towards developing a reusable launch vehicle capable of sending spacecraft into orbit and returning to the earth’s surface
  3. Benefits: The technology, when developed completely, would launch spacecraft, including satellites, into space
  4. It will re-enter the earth’s atmosphere withstanding extreme pressure and heat conditions and land in an intended spot, helping to cut costs on launch vehicles substantially

Interceptor missile mission a failure?

  1. Context: The Prithvi missile and The interceptor never took off from the island
  2. Interceptor: Used to intercept the incoming enemy missile
  3. The DRDO developed both the Prithvi missile and the interceptor and it claims otherwise!
  4. Earlier: In April 2015, a similar mission failed after the interceptor dived into the Bay of Bengal a few seconds after lift off
  5. In April 2014, the warhead in the interceptor failed to explode

ISRO to launch 22 satellites on one rocket

  1. News: The PSLV-XL version rocket will inject 22 satellites into the orbit, a first in the history of the ISRO
  2. It will carry Indian remote sensing satellite – Cartosat 2C, along with 4 micro-satellites and 17 nano-satellites
  3. 18 satellites are being launched for foreign agencies, including those from the U.S., Canada, Germany, and Indonesia
  4. Importance: It will signal another giant leap for India’s space mission

Learn about GSAT-11

  1. About: 4-tonne geostationary communications satellite
  2. When? In 2009, Govt had approved the development of GSAT-11, which is touted to be one of the largest Indian communication satellite
  3. Mission Life: About 15 years
  4. Objective: Link all the towns and villages in country with quality high-speed Wi-Fi service, and also integrate internet and television services
  5. Satellite is currently under development at Department of Space and ISRO facilities

Union Cabinet approves procurement of launch services for GSAT-11

  1. News: Approval for the procurement of launch services and realisation of ground segment for GSAT-11 spacecraft
  2. Context: GSAT-11 will be ready for launch by the end of 2016
  3. Function: Ground segment is being realised to address the rural communication requirements
  4. Ground segment will enable the utilisation of a small portion of the bandwidth for societal services apart from providing in-orbit testing support
  5. Provide a high throughput capacity of about 10 Gbps to render broadband connectivity, especially in rural areas

Space technology for public welfare

  1. Context: In India, space technology is being primarily used as a tool to enable variety of public services by various Central Ministries, State Govts
  2. Public services include: TV, DTH & Radio broadcasting and Weather forecasting and Disaster early warning for Cyclone, Tsunami and Agri and fishing zone advisories
  3. Many govt programmes utilising space technology as input offer direct/ indirect benefits to public
  4. These include: Groundwater Prospect zones, watershed development, urban & rural infra planning and development, rural connectivity etc.
  5. Way forward: ISRO plans to realise communication satellites and earth observation satellites, associated ground segments and development of application tools

Popularity of ISRO’s GeoPortal Bhuvan

  1. Context: ISRO’s BHUVAN (www.bhuvan.nrsc.gov.in) is a well known national geo-portal, which is being widely, used by the Government, public, NGOs and Academia
  2. Designed and developed by: a small team of scientists within ISRO
  3. Primary objective: focuses on societal-benefits and is not a commercial venture
  4. Focus on: Addressing Indian requirements of satellite Images and theme-oriented services to enable planning, monitoring and evaluation of stakeholder’s activities in governance and development
  5. Provides: nation-wide seamless ortho-corrected image base, thematic datasets for many natural resources, transport network, Digital Surface Model
  6. Services include: visualisation of remote sensing data (India-centric), host of thematic services and customised application tools for Government data collaboration

What is Doppler Radar?

  1. Context: An observational tool for monitoring and predicting severe weather events, such as thunderstorms, hailstorms, cyclones and tornados within a radius of 300 km
  2. Gives information: about precipitation and wind velocity
  3. Helps in: Doppler weather radar system helps increase precision in weather forecasting.
  4. How it works? This radar uses the Doppler effect to produce velocity data about objects at a distance
  5. It does this by bouncing a microwave signal off a desired target and analyzing how the object’s motion has altered the frequency of the returned signal
  6. This variation gives direct and highly accurate measurements of the radial component of a target’s velocity relative to the radar

East coast set to get sixth doppler radar

  1. News: New doppler radar to boost the weather forecasting system in cyclone-prone eastern coast will shortly commissioned in Gopalpur in Odisha
  2. Context: It will be sixth such radar on country’s east coast
  3. The others are located in Chennai, Kolkata, Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam and Paradip
  4. Built by: Indigenously built by ISRO and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL)
  5. Significance: As eastern coast is prone to cyclones and better forecast will help authorities in taking timely action

Space Act will be in place soon, says ISRO Chairman

  1. Context: ISRO is rising as a big supplier of satellites to foreign countries
  2. Why? Currently, the space-related activities are done as per business rules, which needs to be defined because the govt is responsible for any object put up in space and for what happens to it in orbit or because of the object itself
  3. As ISRO enables more and more industries in space activities, it will also bring clarity on their capabilities and limitations
  4. Importance: After enactment, all activities will be done under the Space Act
  5. Future: It will help the govt in how it will approach commercial use of space, international collaborations and international treaties; and state regulatory mechanisms

GSLV-MkIII on course as cryo engine passes big test

  1. Context: ISRO’s effort to acquire the capability to launch heavier satellites into orbit
  2. News: ISRO’s cryogenic engine passed a test to qualify it for use in future missions
  3. Outcome: Its design would be frozen, to be replicated for use in the cryogenic third stage of upcoming MkIII rockets
  4. Advantage: The Mk3 will be capable of launching 4-tonne satellites into geosynchronous orbit

ISRO to use electric propulsion system on satellites in two years

  1. What’s in the News? – ISRO is planning to use electric propulsion system on satellites for station keeping and orbital manoeuvre in 2 years
  2. Center’s Involved: Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre and ISRO Satellite Centre
  3. Other Updates: The cryogenic engine for GSLV Mark-III will be undergoing stage-level test soon
  4. In Chandrayaan-II, the objective is to land a rover on the moon and carry out in-situ experiments.
  5. ISRO is also developing various technologies required for a manned mission

Panel to seek increasing ISRO outlay by 50%

  1. The Parliamentary Committee on Science & Technology would recommend a 50% higher budgetary outlay for the Department of Space (DoS)
  2. It could be the highest ever increase for the department and the total budget may surpass Rs. 10,000 crore
  3. The committee have been informed about a requirement for increasing the scientific manpower in ISRO
  4. It held that ISRO needs a bigger budget for new projects and a matching technical pool to complete them

Let’s know about Spaceward Bound programme

  1. The Spaceward Bound is a NASA project that educates future space explorers and funds expeditions to places with extreme climate conditions.
  2. Objective – To train the next generation of space explorers.
  3. There have been expeditions to the deserts such in Atacama, Chile; Mojave, California; Arkaroola, Australia as well as the Arctic and Antarctica, organised since 2006.

NASA, India join hands for astrobiology mission

  1. The agencies will mount an expedition to Ladakh to study the similarities of certain parts of the region’s topography and microbial life to Martian surroundings.
  2. For the first time India is part of Spaceward Bound programme, which funds expeditions to places with extreme climate conditions.
  3. Ladakh offers a high UV exposed, dry ecosystem with Mars analogue topological features.
  4. It tell us a lot about the origin and evolution of our planet’s topological features.

India to build satellite tracking station in Vietnam that offers eye on China

India to set up satellite tracking station in southern Vietnam; officials say Vietnam will have access to data.

  1. India will set up a satellite tracking and imaging centre in southern Vietnam.
  2. That will give Hanoi access to pictures from Indian earth observation satellites that cover the region, including China and the South China Sea.
  3. Earth observation satellites have agricultural, scientific and environmental applications.
  4. Security experts said improved imaging technology meant the pictures could also be used for military purposes.
  5. ISRO has ground stations in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, Brunei, Biak in eastern Indonesia and Mauritius that track its satellites in the initial stages of flight.

Electric propulsion system for ISRO satellites

The first of the few satellites would be hurled into space in 2017.

India’s geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) can carry two-tonne satellites into space.
India’s geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV) can carry two-tonne satellites into space

  1. Nearly a third of the weight of a satellite is liquid fuel, which is used to power the spacecraft to its orbital slot once it is in space.
  2. On the other hand, electric or ion propulsion uses electricity generated from solar energy and releases positive atoms to create the force required to push the satellite to its slot.
  3. It weighs significantly lighter and is 10 times more efficient than liquid fuelled satellites and thus enables to add more transponders on our own.
  4. The fixed satellite service (FSS) industry is currently in a transition phase going towards higher cost effectiveness of satellite infrastructure.

ISRO conceives two ‘space parks’

To engage domestic firms in launch vehicles — from integrating sub-systems to assembling and launching the PSLV.

  1. Two space industry enclaves or “parks” that have been conceived.
  2. One for launchers at Sriharikota and a smaller one at an existing Bengaluru spacecraft campus, signal increased privatisation of the nation’s space programme over the next 5 years.
  3. This well-established rocket has put Indian and foreign satellites of up to 1,600 kg into space.
  4. The future consortium will be fully responsible for building and launching the light-lift PSLV rocket.
  5. ISRO plans to increasingly support small and mid-sized industries at its 10-year-old second spacecraft complex, the 100-acre ISITE, at Marathahalli in Bengaluru.

ISRO launches 6 Singapore satellites

  1. ISRO has successfully launched 6 Singapore satellites.
  2. The national space agency also tested the fourth stage of its PSLV rocket.
  3. This will help in future launches while attempting to launch multiple satellites in different orbits.
  4. ISRO has launched 17 foreign satellites this year, altogether it has launched a total of 57 foreign satellites for 20 countries till now.

India’s Chandrayaan-II launch in 2017 and Aditya L1 in 2019

India has entered the era of “space marketing”, so far earned $15 million and €80 million by launching satellites of other countries.

File photo of Chandrayaan-I. India's second lunar probe Chandrayaan-II will be launched in 2017.
File photo of Chandrayaan-I. India’s second lunar probe Chandrayaan-II will be launched in 2017.

  1. India’s second lunar probe Chandrayaan II will land on moon in 2017 and first solar mission Aditya L1 is likely to be launched in 2019.
  2. Chandrayaan II will land on the surface of moon in 2017 and this second lunar mission will help explore the possibilities of signs of extraterrestrial life.
  3. The Aditya L1 mission is aimed at studying the sun from an orbit around the sun-earth lagrangian point (L-1).
  4. It will carry seven payloads including a coronagraph to observe the outermost layers of the sun, the corona.

Let’s know about Indian remote sensing (IRS) satellites?

  1. Program was launched to support the national economy in areas of agriculture, water resources, forestry and ecology, geology, marine fisheries and coastal management.
  2. Data from IRS satellites are used for resources survey and management under the National Natural Resources Management System (NNRMS).
  3. Currently 10 operational satellites in orbit includes, Resourcesat – 2, Cartosat – 2B, Oceansat – 2, Risat – 2, IMS – 1, Cartosat – 1.

Some Applications are –

  • Space Based Inputs for Decentralized Planning (SIS-DP)
  • National Urban Information System (NUIS)
  • ISRO Disaster Management Support Programme (ISRO-DMSP)
  • Preharvest crop area and production estimation of major crops.
  • Forest survey

Satellites for Agri Purpose

These satellites are also used for varied applications in natural resource management, infrastructure planning and disaster management.

  1. ISRO has launched Indian Remote Sensing Satellites in thematic series viz. Resourcesat, Cartosat and Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT-1).
  2. The images acquired by these Satellites, in conjunction with field observations, are used for various applications in the area of agriculture development.
  3. It includes mapping and monitoring of agricultural crops & its condition, crop acreage estimation & production forecast, crop phenology and growth.
  4. It also includes site suitability for crops, cropping system analysis, watershed monitoring & management, command area management and drought assessment etc.

PSLV bags two more US launch orders

PlanetiQ, one of several companies in the US developing constellations of small satellites to collect weather data, will launch its first two satellites in late 2016 on PSLV.

  1. The first two of a planned constellation of 12 satellites will fly as secondary payloads on a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) scheduled to launch in November 2016.
  2. The satellites will be placed into orbit at an altitude of 800 kilometers.
  3. About a year ago, U.S. satellite operators could not conceive of launching from India because of a longstanding U.S. policy bar.
  4. In recent years, established U.S. launch companies have moved on to lifting far heavier satellites, leaving a demand for launchers that can put smaller satellites in space.

What is Hyperspectral Imaging?

  1. Hyperspectral images provide ample spectral information to identify and distinguish spectrally unique materials.
  2. This technology provides deeper insights into the type of material present, and finds its use in remote sensing technology.
  3. Hyperspectral images will have many applications in resource mgmt, agriculture, mineral exploration, and environmental monitoring.
  4. Spectroscopy is the study of light that is emitted by or reflected from materials and its variation in energy with wavelength.

ISRO working on 4-D, 5-D imaging technology: scientist

  1. ISRO is working on 4-D and 5-D imaging technology as part of the space agency’s engagement with hyperspectral imaging.
  2. Hyperspectral imaging is a new and emerging area in Geographic Information System (GIS).
  3. It will enable researchers, doctors and students to use the most advanced GIS tool for welfare activities.

India’s first solar mission, Aditya-1

India’s solar mission will study Sun’s outermost layers, corona and chromosphere and collect data about coronal mass ejection

  1. ISRO chairman said, India’s first solar mission, Aditya-1, is slated for lift-off in 2018-2019.
  2. Spacecraft will be positioned 1.5 million kms from the earth at a point called Lagrangian-1 and will make a detailed study of sun 24×7.
  3. Data from Aditya mission will be immensely helpful in discriminating between different models for the origin of solar storms.
  4. Helpful in constraining how the storms evolve and what path they take through the interplanetary space from the Sun to the Earth.
  5. At the moment, there are models and calculations made by NASA which Indian scientists use to maintain their satellites.

Now, there is a possibility of Indians developing their own space weather prediction models.

NISAR biggest outcome of ISRO-NASA partnership: NASA scientist

  1. ISRO will be providing the S-band SAR payload and the launch vehicle, while NASA will be providing the L-band SAR and the engineering payload.
  2. NASA and ISRO will be collaborating to make IRNSS and GPS more accurate.
  3. NASA will also be providing navigation and trajectory support to Chandrayaan-2.
  4. Both agencies are going to conduct an airborne experiment with NASA instrument Airborne Visible InfraRed Imaging Spectrometer – Next Generation.

GSAT-15 set to replace dying INSAT-3A and 4B

INSAT-3A, launched in April 2003, has completed its 12-year life. INSAT-4B, flown in March 2007, got reduced to half its functions in 2010.

  1. GSAT-15, communications satellite, will replace two older spacecraft that will likely expire in the coming months.
  2. Its 24 transponders are solely in the Ku band and will cater to DTH (direct-to-home) television first.
  3. GSAT-15 will not add new transponder capacity to the country.
  4. It will ensure sustainability of service for the capacity-hungry DTH sector.
  5. It will carry the third GAGAN satellite navigation transponder as a back-up for airlines and other users of augmented GPS-based systems.

GSAT-15 to be launched on Nov 10 from French Guiana

The satellite would provide C and Ku band telecommunications and navigation services to India.

In this photo tweeted by Arianespace GSAT-15 is shown during the integration process in French Guiana. The Indian satellite is first mated to a cone-shaped adapter (left) that will function as its interface with the Ariane5 rocket and moved into a protective container (right) for its transfer to the Spaceport’s Ariane5 Final Assembly Building.

  1. ISRO’s latest communication satellite GSAT-15 launched from French Guiana on board Ariane 5.
  2. As part of augmenting telecommunication services, had earlier launched communication satellites GSAT-14 and GSAT-6.
  3. It will have a lift off mass of 3,164.5 kg and will have mission life of 12 years.
  4. GSAT-15 launched along with Arabsat6B, set up by the Arab League Intergovernmental Organisation.
  5. Arabsat to provide telecommunications and television broadcast services for Middle East and African region.

ASTROSAT launch: India reaches for the stars


  1. India’s first attempt at setting up an observatory in space, a place from where it can study cosmological phenomena.
  2. 1500-kg ASTROSAT, a mission life of five years,which is carrying five payloads, including an ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UVIT), is being described as India’s version of the Hubble telescope that NASA had put in space in 1990.
  3. The mission is aimed at observation of celestial processes, and at obtaining data that will help in a better understanding of the universe.
  4. A space observatory can receives pure signals because of which the readings by instruments are more accurate.

This will put ISRO in a very exclusive club of nations,the United States, European Space Agency, Japan and Russia have such observatories in space.

India set to cross half century mark in foreign satellites

Till date, India has launched 45 foreign satellites for a fee.

  1. India will in all likelihood cross the half century milestone next week as six foreign satellites are scheduled for launch on September 28 at one go.
  2. Rocket polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) will launch the country’s own ASTROSAT weighing 1,513 kg.
  3. Also four from the US and one each from Indonesia and Canada is in the list.

Cryogenic success


If there was any doubt about India mastering cryogenic technology for its space endeavours, the flight of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D6) from Sriharikota (or SHAR) on August 27 dispelled it.


  1. The indigenous cryogenic engine in the third, topmost stage fired flawlessly for 12 minutes.
  2. The 2,117-kilogram communication satellite GSAT-6 was put into its initial orbit.
  3. An important feature of GSAT-6 is its six-metre diameter unfurlable antenna which will help Indian armed forces personnel communicate with each other on secure lines using compact handheld devices.
  4. Onwards, ISRO need not depend on the European Space Agency to put its communication satellites

What is NISAR?

  1. NISAR stands for NASA ISRO synthetic aperture radar. It is being developed to take a radar imagery of earth in an unprecedented detail.
  2. NISAR will use two different radar frequencies – L-Band by NASA and S-band by ISRO.


What are these different bands? S & L

What is GAGAN?

GAGAN stands for Geo Augmented Navigation System for civil aviation purpose. It is a joint effort of ISRO and AAI to help the air traffic to land and fly airplanes in bad weather.

ISRO-NASA mission to use GSLV-D6 rocket

  1. NASA ISRO SAR Mission (NISAR) is expected to be launched on board GSLV-D6 in 2020-21.
  2. NISAR would be optimised for studying hazards and global environment change.
  3. By using India’s GSLV for launching satellites weighing up to 2 tonne, it would help save on foreign exchange, not using foreign launchers.
  4. GSLV will cost just one third of the cost we have to spend on foreign agencies.
  5. ISRO has lined up 10 Indian satellites to be launched on board GSLV-D6.

GSAT-6 will be a game changer

  1. The GSLV-D6 satellite launcher is powered by the indigenously developed upper cryogenic stage to send the GSAT-6 communication satellite.
  2. GSAT-6 is a predominantly S-band communication satellite that enables multimedia applications.
  3. It will be used purely for ‘strategic’ purposes by the Armed Forces and for societal uses during a disaster or an emergency.
  4. It would function the same way as other INSAT/GSATs, but in hardware terms, it would be a game changer.

What is S-Band and what are its specific usage?

What is the difference between cryonics & cryogenics?

ISRO hopes soar for another indigenous GSLV launch success

  1. ISRO is planning to launch indigenous GSLV launcher boosted by its Indian cryogenic third stage.
  2. GSLV-D6 is the ninth in the series of the indigenous medium-lift satellite launch vehicle and will carry 2,140-kg communication satellite GSAT-6.
  3. GSLV will enable India to launch satellites upto 2 tonnes, for which we currently rely on costly Western launchers.
  4. Some of the planned GSLV launches for domestic use: INSAT-3DR, a spare to replace the meteorology satellite INSAT-3D, GISAT, GSAT-6 which will in future be replaced by GSAT-6A.

ISRO to launch 9 nano/micro American


As on date, Antrix Corporation Ltd, the commercial arm of ISRO, has signed agreement to launch about nine nano/micro (US) satellites during 2015-2016 time frame.

  • ISRO’s commercial vehicle Antrix will launch 9 micro and nano US satellites as small co-passengers using PSLV.
  • A micro satellite weighs between 10 to 100 kgs while a nano satellite weighs between 1 to 10 kgs.
  • ISRO-NASA are also co-developing a Synthetic Aperture Radar – a radar imaging satellite and will be launched from India in 2019-20.


  1. Many may find it a crowning glory, but Indian Space Research Organization (Isro) scientists think it’s just an acknowledgement long due.
  2. The US, which imposed sanctions on India, will take India’s help to launch one of its satellites soon.
  3. ISRO, at present, is gearing up for the launch of GSLV-Mark-II, probably around August 27.


What’s more?

Having successfully launched a Mars mission, India is planning a mission to Venus. Isro is also on the lookout for a launch pad outside Sriharikota, in Kulasekarapattinam in southern Tamil Nadu.

Isro to put US satellite in space for the first time


  1. ISRO will launch an American satellite using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
  2. India has so far launched 45 satellites for 19 nations and another 28 foreign satellites will be launched in the next two years.
  3. Presently, ISRO is preparing to launch communication satellite from GSLV-Mark II.
  4. It is also testing the indigenously developed cryogenic engine for GSLV-Mark-III, which can carry satellites weighing up to four tonnes.
  5. Having successfully launched a Mars mission, India is planning a mission to Venus.

Satellite-based navigation system to benefit 50 airports in India

  1. GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) system, will offer navigation over the country, the Bay of Bengal, South East Asia, Middle East and up to Africa.
  2. Benefits are improved efficiency, direct routes, increased fuel savings, approach with vertical guidance at runways, significant cost savings
  3. It bridges the gap in the coverage areas of the European Union’s EGNOS and Japan’s MSAS.

ISRO’s GAGAN to provide navigational support to Railways

  1. GAGAN is an indigenous navigational guide system developed by ISRO on the lines of GPS system of the US.
  2. Jointly developed by the ISRO and Airports Authority of India (AAI) with a view to assist aircraft in accurate landing.
  3. The GAGAN signal is being broadcast through 2 Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites.
  4. How will it aid railways?
    • Help provide safety at unmanned level crossings
    • Provide information on under stressed railway tracks – water clogging, dismantled tracks
    • Identifying routes when the rail cruises through mountaineous/ difficult regions

ISRO to test re-usable satellite launch vehicle

  1. This will help cut down the cost of satellite launches to “one-tenth” the present rates.
  2. Under the project, a plane will be flown into outer space at five times the speed of sound, deliver the payload and then land back like an aircraft.
  3. There are currently no reusable launch vehicles in operation anywhere.
  4. Also, an Android-based application ‘Sakaar’ has been launched, intended to give a real world environment to visualise ISRO projects such as Mars Mission.

ISRO mulls tie-up with industrial partners

ISRO successfully tests indigenous cryogenic engine

  1. This engine will allow launch vehicles to carry satellites of up to capacity of 4 tonnes in geostationary orbit.
  2. It will also give boost to India’s interplanetary probes and manned space missions.
  3. A cryogenic engine is more efficient as it provides more thrust for every kilogram of propellant burnt.
  4. Extremely clean as they give out only water while burning.
  5. The engine uses liquid oxygen at -2530C and liquid hydrogen at -1830C.

ISRO to collaborate with other space agencies

  1. This was announced by Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh in the Lok Sabha.
  2. ISRO is having talks with space agencies of the USA, Russia and France to collaborate for inter-planetary explorations.
  3. India will acquire the knowledge to minimize the cost of launching complex missions and enhance the technological capabilities in spacecraft design.

ISRO pitches cost-effective fire-proofing technology

CASPOL, is a water-based ready-to-coat and easy-to-use flame-proof coating. Has excellent flame retardant, waterproofing, and thermal-control properties.

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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