New Delhi: India today launched its first navigation satellite built by the private sector since Sriharikota. The satellite will replace one of seven NAVIC satellites that are malfunctioning. The 1425 kg IRNSS – 1H satellite was lifted at 7 pm on the back of the PSLV, the Indian workhorse that will be on its 41st flight.
The launch was previously scheduled for 6:59 pm, but was delayed one minute to avoid space debris.
The new satellite was built by a consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies, a Bengaluru defense equipment supplier, for eight months. A team of 70 scientists from the space research organization ISRO had overseen the whole process.
The Indian space agency has conducted 150 missions over the past three decades, staring with Aryabhatta in 1975. But with India putting its sights on becoming one of the top commercial satellite providers, it was decided to string it into the private sector. In the future, the private sector is expected to take the lead.
The manufacture of satellites requires high precision, since these hundreds of rupees costs and after their launching remain functional for ten years without possibility of repair. India has already created a niche in the industry, building and sending satellites into orbit for other nations. The last expedition was in February, when the launch vehicle of Polar satellites sent 104 satellites in space; 101 of them belonged to other nations.
India’s own needs are also expanding – the country currently requires 17 satellites a year for a wide range of purposes, including communication, weather forecasting and earth observation and military use.
The NAVIC system, a system of seven home-made navigation satellites, is powering the Swadeshi Global Positioning System. The last one was released in April 2016.
But to cover any eventuality, India needed two spare satellites ready for the quick launch. That moment came sooner than expected, as the three atomic clocks on one of the satellites broke down in January.