New Chairman Takes Charge as India Space Agency Struggles to Launch Satellites and Begin Human Spaceflight

New ISRO Chairman Shri. S. Somanath (left) takes over from K. Sivan. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A new chairman has taken over the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) at a crucial time as the space agency continues to struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge of becoming only the fourth nation capable of launching astronauts into orbit.

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Qualification Testing of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan Programme

Credit: ISRO

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — Today, January 12, 2022, ISRO successfully conducted the qualification test of Cryogenic Engine for Gaganyaan programme for a duration of 720 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

This successful long-duration test is a major milestone for the Human Space Programme – Gaganyaan. It ensures the reliability and robustness of the cryogenic engine for induction into the human-rated launch vehicle for Gaganyaan.

Further, this engine will undergo four more tests for a cumulative duration of 1810 seconds. Subsequently, one more engine will undergo two short-duration tests & one long-duration test to complete the cryogenic engine qualification for Gaganyaan Programme.

ISRO and OPPO India to Work Towards Providing NavIC Messaging Services for Mobile Platforms

BANGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — The NavIC system [Navigation with Indian Constellation], in addition to its primary function of providing PNT [Positioning, Navigation, and Timing] services, is also capable of broadcasting short messages. This messaging service is being used for broadcasting safety-of-life alerts in areas with poor or no communication, particularly in the oceans.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with OPPO India to exchange technical information of NavIC messaging services. This will enable integrating NavIC messaging service with the mobile handset platform keeping in mind the need of Indian users.

K. Sivan, Secretary of the Department of Space and Chairman of ISRO, appreciated the efforts of OPPO India in scaling NavIC application through their innovative R&D initiatives. He also urged them to include NavIC in all their upcoming mobile platforms that use location based solutions.

India Delays Gaganyaan Crew Flight as Mission Specific Training Begins

Indian Coast Guard recovering ISRO’s Crew module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment (CARE) at 114 nautical miles South West of Indira point. [Credit: Indian Coast Guard (GODL-India)]

India is delaying its planned launch of its Gaganyaan crew vehicle due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. India Today reports:

India’s maiden space mission, Gaganyaan, will be launched in 2023, Science & Technology Minister Dr Jitendra Singh said on Thursday. In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha, the minister said that India’s maiden human space mission will soar to the skies in 2023, making the country the fourth nation in the world to launch a human spaceflight mission after the US, Russia and China.

Meanwhile, the test vehicle flight for the validation of Crew Escape System performance and the first uncrewed mission of Gaganyaan are scheduled at the beginning of the second half of 2022.

“This will be followed by the second uncrewed mission at the end of 2022 carrying “Vyommitra” a spacefaring human-robot developed by ISRO and finally the first crewed Gaganyaan mission in 2023,” he said.

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NASA-NOAA Tech Will Aid Marine Oil Spill Response

An oil slick from naturally occurring oil seeps off the coast of Santa Barbara, California. The Marine Oil Spill Thickness (MOST) project is using these natural seeps to test technology that can detect the thickest oil in a slick during an oil spill emergency. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists are teaming up to test remote sensing technology for use in oil spill response.

By Esprit Smith
NASA’s Earth Science News Team

Just off the coast of Santa Barbara, California, thousands of gallons of oil seep through cracks in the seafloor and rise to the surface each day. But this isn’t a disaster zone: It’s one of the largest naturally occurring oil seeps in the world and is believed to have been active for thousands of years.

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A Report on India’s Plans to Compete in Space on International Market

Video Caption: India is opening doors for private companies to enter space. PM Narendra Modi launched the Indian Space Association that will serve as a “single-window” for matters of space technology.

What is India’s game plan to win the global space race? Palki Sharma tells you.

NSIL/ISRO and OneWeb to Collaborate for Taking Digital Connectivity to Every Corner of the World

GSLV Mk III booster lifts off. (Credit: ISRO)
  • ISRO’s PSLV and GSLV-MkIII to become a part of launch programme for OneWeb’s LEO satellites that will beam high speed broadband on earth

LONDON and NEW DELHI, India, 11 October 2021 (OneWeb PR) — Bharti-backed OneWeb, the low Earth orbit satellite communications company, today announced an  arrangement through Letter of Intent with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL), the commercial arm of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), to use the Indian-built PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) and the heavier GSLV-MkIII (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) as potential platforms to launch OneWeb’s satellites in India from 2022.

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Indian Space Commercialization Gathers Speed as Government Eyes Foreign Direct Investment Policy Changes

The Indian government’s efforts to commercialize its space sector has been picking up speed over the past two years. Outlook India spotlighted two important indicators in a recent story:

About 40 space startups and industries are in consultation with ISRO for support related to various domains of space activity such as development of satellites, launch vehicles, develop applications and provide space-based services.

India’s Foreign Direct Investment policy in the space sector is also getting revised which, the ISRO Chairman and DoS Secretary K Sivan believes, will open up huge avenues for foreign companies to invest in the country.

India’s space industry has been largely closed and government run. Changing the investment policy could bring a flood of foreign money into a range of areas, including communications and launch vehicle development.

The government has established NewSpace India Ltd. under the Department of Space to spearhead commercialization efforts. The company has been overseeing efforts to turn over the production of India’s government-built launch vehicles to private companies.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently signed agreements that will allow two private launch vehicle developers, Agnikul Cosmos and Skyroot Aerospace, access to the space agency’s facilities and technical expertise. Additional agreements are anticipated.

ISRO has established the Indian National Space Promotion and Authorisation Center (IN-SPACe), whose responsibility is to facilitate cooperation between the space agency and private companies.

Agnikul Cosmos Signs MOU to Use ISRO Facilities to Develop Launch Vehicle

Agnibaan small-satellite launcher (Credit: Agnikul Cosmos)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Indian startup Agnikul Cosmos signed a framework memorandum of understanding (MOU) with India’s Department of Space on Friday for access to ISRO facilities and expertise for the development of its two-stage small-satellite Agnibaan launch vehicle.

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Framework MOU Signed with M/s Skyroot for Access to ISRO Facilities

Vikram boosters (Credit: Skyroot Aerospace)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Department of Space has today, September 11, 2021, entered into a Framework MoU with M/s Skyroot Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., Hyderabad for access to ISRO facilities and expertise towards the development and testing of subsystems/systems of Space Launch Vehicles. The Framework MoU will enable the company for undertaking multiple tests and access facilities at various ISRO centers and also enable to avail technical expertise of ISRO for testing and qualifying their space launch vehicle systems and subsystems.

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Rocket Lab Lands Multi-Launch Deal to Deploy Entire IoT Satellite Constellation for Kinéis

Kineis satellite constellation (Credit: CLS)

The multi-launch contract will see Rocket Lab deploy 25 Internet-of-Things (IoT) satellites across five dedicated missions on the Electron launch vehicle

Long Beach, California. September 08, 2021 (Rocket Lab PR) – Rocket Lab USA, Inc (“Rocket Lab” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: RKLB), a leading launch provider and space systems company, today announced it has been awarded a contract to deploy an entire satellite constellation across five dedicated Electron missions for Kinéis, a global Internet-of-Things (IoT) connectivity provider. 

Scheduled for launch beginning in the second quarter of 2023, the constellation will enable Kinéis, a company backed by private and public investors including the French government’s space agency CNES (Centre National d’Études Spatiales) and CLS (Collecte Localisation Satellites) an international space-based solutions provider, to improve its global IoT connectivity. The multi-launch contract with Kinéis, which is subject to standard termination and launch rescheduling provisions, follows a similar bulk buy of launches earlier this year to deploy nine satellites across five dedicated Electron missions as part of a constellation for BlackSky, a provider of real-time geospatial intelligence and global monitoring services.

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Successful Hot Test of Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System – System Demonstration Model (SDM)

Gaganyaan Service module propulsion system demonstration module. (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On August 28, 2021, ISRO successfully conducted the first hot test of the System Demonstration Model (SDM) of the Gaganyaan Service Module Propulsion System for a duration of 450 seconds at the test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

The system performance met the test objectives and there was a close match with the pre-test predictions. Further, a series of hot tests are planned to simulate various mission conditions as well as off-nominal conditions.

The Service Module is part of the Gaganyaan Orbital module and is located below the crew module and remains connected to it until re-entry. The Service Module (SM) Propulsion System consists of a unified bipropellant system consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N thrust engines and 16 nos. of 100 N Reaction Control system (RCS) thrusters with MON-3 and MMH as Oxidizer and Fuel respectively.

The System Demonstration Model (SDM), consisting of 5 nos. of 440 N engines and 8 nos. of 100 N thrusters, was realized to qualify the propulsion system performance in ground. A new test facility is established at IPRC, Mahendragiri for testing the SDM.

Indian Rocket Launch Fails, Earth Observation Satellite Lost

GSLV booster on its way to the launch pad. (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India — The GSLV-F10 launch took place on Thursday, August 12, 2021 at 0543 IST as scheduled. Performance of first and second stages was normal. However, cryogenic upper stage ignition did not happen due to technical anomaly. The mission couldn’t be accomplished as intended.

EOS-03 was a state-of-the-art agile Earth observation satellite which was to have been placed in a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit by GSLV-F10. The satellite was to have reached its final geostationary orbit using its onboard propulsion system.

A 4-meter diameter Ogive shaped payload fairing was flown for the first time on this GSLV flight. It was the fourteenth flight of the GSLV rocket. The rocket has a record of eight successes, four failures and two partial failures.

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India has only launched four times since the beginning of 2000. The three previous flights during that period were successful. India typically conducts about six launches annually.

Third Successful Vikas Engine Long Duration Hot Test for ISRO’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program

Vikas engine hot fire (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — On July 14, 2021, ISRO has successfully conducted the third long duration hot test of the liquid propellant Vikas engine for the core L110 liquid stage of the human rated GSLV Mk III vehicle, as part of the engine qualification requirements for the Gaganyaan Programme.

The engine was fired for a duration of 240 seconds at the engine test facility of ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC), Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu. The performance of the engine met the test objectives and the engine parameters were closely matching with the predictions during the entire duration of the test.

Launch 2020: India’s Flight Rate Declined Due to COVID-19, but Nation Moved Forward with Commercialization

PSLV-C50 lifts off with the CMS-01 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, India’s growing space program managed only two domestic launches last year as it was forced to delay the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program and several other high profile projects.

However, India was able to move forward last year on a sweeping commercialization of its state-controlled space industry designed to make the country internationally competitive.

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