Tag Archives: India

GSLV Mk 3 has flown!

India has upgraded their GSLV rocket, and made a fully successful maiden flight of the new model, delivering GSAT 19, a geosynchronous commsat.  The GSLV family has had issues, but hopefully they are now resolved.  This new version is also considerably more powerful, putting it into contention with all the major geosynchronous launch providers on the commercial market.  This also gives them, for the first time, the performance necessary for a crewed launch, although ISRO does not yet have any announced plans to pursue human spaceflight.

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PSLV launches GSAT-9

I can’t believe I missed this when it happened!  India launched another Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, placing the GSAT-9 commsat into orbit.  They’re offering GSAT-9, aka the South Asia Satellite, for the use of all nations in South Asia.  This has had a somewhat mixed reception, with Pakistan seeming particularly unimpressed, but Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives are all signed on to make use of the vehicle.

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Two more launches: PSLV (Resourcesat 2A) and Delta IV (WGS 8)

Two more successful launches this week!  First off, yesterday India placed the Resourcesat 2A spacecraft into orbit aboard a PSLV XL rocket from Satish Dhawan Space Centre on Sriharikota Island.  The satellite will fly on a polar orbit (inclination 98.7 degrees) to study resource utilization, soil contamination, water usage, and so forth across the Indian subcontinent.

Then this evening, a rare Delta IV Medium rocket (the “stick” configuration of the Delta IV, seldom used because although it is highly reliable, it is also highly *expensive*) placed the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) 8 satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.  WGS-8 will serve military customers, providing both targeted and full-disk communications beams in variety of frequency bands.  It is the most capable military commsat launched by the USAF, capable of serving multiple bands simultaneously and even switching between them on the fly.

And here’s a rather different perspective on the launch — a deceptively peaceful one, shot by a drone over nearby Cocoa Beach.  The audio is from the operator’s cellphone, so mostly records the sound of the ocean waves rolling in.  You have to listen carefully to hear the distant warbling roar of the rocket.

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India’s PSLV completes its most technically challenging mission to date

India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, a remarkably reliable rocket, has just completed its most technically challenging launch to date, placing ScatSat 1 (an Indian weather satellite), Pathfinder 1 (a prototype commercial imaging satellite from American company BlackSky), AlSat 1B and AlSat 2B (a pair of Algerian Earth imaging satellites), an Algerian CubeSat, a Canadian CubeSat called CanX-7, and a pair of Indian student-built satellites called PRATHAM and PISAT.  The complex deployment pattern required the PSLV’s fourth stage to relight twice, a first for the vehicle and a major step in positioning it to continue competing in the international launch market.  This capability is critical for multi-payload deployments, an increasingly popular method of getting one’s payload into orbit more cheaply, especially as small satellites become far more capable.

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PSLV places the sixth Indian navigational satellite into orbit

India’s PSLV successfully placed the IRNSS-1F satellite into orbit today:

One more spacecraft is planned to complete the constellation.  IRNSS is India’s domestic satellite navigation system, intended to reduce their reliance on foreign constellations such as GPS and GLONASS.

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PSLV delivers the fifth element in the IRNSS navigation constellation!

India’s PSLV rocket placed the IRNSS-1E satellite into orbit today.  This is the fifth of seven satellites that make up the initial capability constellation for India’s domestic satellite navigation system, the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System.  It represents another step in the PSLV’s remarkable run of successful flights out of Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharkota, Andhra Pradesh.

IRNSS is one of several competitors to GPS that exist now, as it seems every country with a serious satellite program is aiming to launch their own.  Russia has GLONASS, China has Beidou, Europe is building Galileo, and Japan also plans a similar system.  Low-to-mid Earth Orbit is filling up quickly…..

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Rocket Launch Catchup: Long March 3B, Zenit 3, Proton, Soyuz TMA-19M, PSLV

It’s been a busy week in rocketry!

China

December 9, China placed the Chinasat 1C communications satellite into orbit during a spectacular nighttime launch of the Long March 3B from Xichang space center.

Russia

Russia, meanwhile, had a typically busy time, with three launches.  First off on December 11 was what could end up being the final Zenit launch if Russia doesn’t resolve its issues with Ukraine, as that’s where Zenit is made.  It placed the Elektro-L 2 weather satellite into orbit for the Russian government, launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome (with musical accompaniment in this video clip):

The very next day, they launched a Proton rocket carrying a Russian military communications satellite of undisclosed function, but which experts believe is the second element of the Garpun data relay constellation, which serves a role similar to NASA’s TDRSS constellation.  I could not find a video of the launch, but I did find this one showing rollout of the vehicle.

And then yesterday Baikonur hosted a third launch, and easily the most anticipated of the week: the Soyuz TMA-19M launch, which delivered Yuri Malenchenko (Russia), Timothy Kopra (USA), and Timothy Peake (United Kingdom) to the ISS.  Launch and rendezvous were flawless, but final docking ran into a hiccup and Malenchenko completed the docking manually.  Peake, who is making his first spaceflight, is the first British astronaut in space actually under the auspices of the British government (via its membership in ESA); previous British astronauts have had to emigrate to the US and join NASA first (Michael Foale), or buy Soyuz seats with private funds.

And if you have the latest version of Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer, you can see the view from a viewing location away from the pad in 360 video, courtesy of BBC News.  Makes you feel like you’re there!

India
Rounding out the week so far and cementing a very eastern hemisphere bias to the launch schedule is India, whose PSLV out of Satish Dhawan Space Center on Sriharikota Island successfully placed six Singaporean satellites into space at once, the largest being TeLEOS 1, an Earth observation satellite; the other five were small university-developed payloads.
Next Up:
Next are China’s Long March 2B, set to place the Dark Matter Particle Explorer into orbit tomorrow, a dual-payload Galileo launch by Soyuz, the Falcon 9 return-to-flight with Orbcomm payloads, a Progress launch, another Proton, and probably also the Gaofen 4 geosynchronous Earth observation satellite, before the year ends.

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