ISRO Chairman Given 1-Year Extension of Term

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan has been given an one-year extension to his term, postponing his planned Jan. 14, 2021 retirement date.

Sivan, 63, was appointed ISRO chairman in January 2018. He joined ISRO in 1982 and previously served as director of the space agency’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre and the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.

In an interview with the Times of India, Sivan said he would do his best to move the Gaganyaan human spaceflight program toward a crew launch by the August 2022 deadline set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Other priorities include continuing the ongoing commercialization reforms of the Indian space industry and fast tracking the launch of the Chandrayaan-3 lunar landing mission.

ISRO Signed MoU with IIT BHU, Varanasi

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Indian Institute of Technology, Varanasi for setting up the Regional Academic Centre for Space at IIT BHU, in the country.

This is the 5th Regional Academic Centre for Space being set up in the country. This is a regional level initiative to pursue advanced research in the area of space technology, space science and space applications relevant to space programme. This will also encourage student centric research activities in the region.

The MoU was signed by Dr. P V Venkitakrishnan, Director, CBPO, ISRO and Prof. Pramod Kumar Jain, Director, IIT BHU, Varanasi on 23rd December 2020.  Shri R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO delivered the inaugural address.

ISRO Opens Space Situational Awareness Center

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — In view of ever-growing population of space objects and the recent trend towards mega-constellations, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) has become an integral and indispensable part of safe and sustainable space operations.

For the last few decades, ISRO has been carrying out SSA activities, mainly focused on safeguarding India’s space assets. Recognising the need for dedicated efforts to tackle the emerging challenges of operating in an exceedingly crowded and contested space domain, Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management (DSSAM) has been established at ISRO.

The Directorate engages in evolving improved operational mechanisms to protect Indian space assets through effective coordination amongst ISRO/DOS Centres, other space agencies and international bodies, and establishment of necessary supporting infrastructures, such as additional observation facilities for space object monitoring, and a control centre for centralized SSA activities.

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Agnikul Cosmos Becomes the First Company to Sign an Agreement With ISRO Under the Newly Proposed IN-SPACe Entity

CHENNAI, India, December 8, 2020 (Agnikul Cosmos PR) — The Department of Space (DoS) and Agnikul Cosmos Private Limited, an IIT Madras based launch vehicle startup, are pleased to announce that they have signed a non-disclosure agreement under the newly proposed IN-SPACe entity. Indian National Space Promotion and Authorization Center (IN-SPACe) is an independent nodal agency under DoS for allowing space activities and usage of DOS owned facilities by private organizations as well as to prioritise the launch manifest.

Under the agreement, Agnikul will be able to work with various Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) centers to get access to technical information and facilities necessary to go forward with their launch vehicle development that will enable rapid space access to anyone launching a small satellite. This is a significant step & the first such step by the Department of Space in mentoring private players to collaborate with ISRO.

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India Launches Earth Observation Satellite, 9 Secondary Payloads

  • India’s first launch of 2020 lofts 10 satellites
  • ISRO has been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • India typically launches five or six times per year
  • Secondary payloads included four Kleos Space maritime applications satellites and four Lemur multi-mission satellites for Spire

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — Today, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its fifty first flight (PSLV-C49), successfully launched EOS-01 along with nine international customer satellites from the First Launch Pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. 

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Embarrassed ISRO Keeping Vikram Failure Report Secret

This before and after image ratio highlights changes to the surface; the impact point is near center of the image and stands out due the dark rays and bright outer halo. Note the dark streak and debris about 100 meters to the SSE of the impact point. Diagonal straight lines are uncorrected background artifacts. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The News Minute reports the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to keep the failure report for its Vikram lunar lander under wraps.

According to the TOI report, the [Right to Information (RTI)] query was filed by Sathish GN, a resident of Bengaluru. Sathish had sought the details of the FAC report on the hard landing of Vikram lander. However, the RTI response states that this information cannot be divulged under Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. This section lists exemption of disclosure of information that would “prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.”

A veteran scientist and former ISRO Chief said that ISRO’s decision may not be the best. “I don’t think the decision taken by ISRO is correct. ISRO has been doing a transparent job and has been a transparent organisation. Just by showing where and how it landed will not affect national security. They have given a lame excuse, that is all,” Dr G Madhavan Nair said. 

The Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 7, 2019, putting an end to India’s much hyped first attempt to land on the moon. Vikram was part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, whose orbiter continues to return results to this day.

The News Minute said ISRO’s Failure Analysis Committee (FAC) traditionally issues reports on the space agency’s failed missions.

The news website said the only public explanation of the failure came in a written reply by the Prime Minister’s Office to a question from Parliament.

During the second phase of descent, Vikram applied excessive braking force and veered off its planned landing trajectory, the response said.

“Due to this deviation, the initial conditions at the start of the fine braking phase were beyond the designed parameters. As a result, Vikram hard-landed within 500 metres of the designated landing site,” the government said.

Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian discovered remains of Vikram about 750 meters from the planned landing area after scouring images returned by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The discovery was later confirmed by the U.S. space agency.

Kleos Space’s Team Completes Final Preparations Before Launch of Scouting Mission Satellites

Kleos Scouting mission. (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 29 October 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A. a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company confirms that its team of mission engineers have completed the final preparation of the Kleos’ four Scouting Mission satellites prior to launch on board the PSLV C49.

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France, India Space Cooperation to Focus on Climate and Human Spaceflight

French also to contribute instrument to India’s 2025 mission to Venus

PARIS (CNES PR) — On Wednesday September 30, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, met with his Indian counterpart, Dr. K Sivan, President of ISRO. During this virtual session, all the subjects central to cooperation between the two countries were discussed.

In August 2019, CNES and ISRO embarked on the development and manufacture of a constellation of satellites. This, carrying telecommunications (AIS automatic identification) and observation (radar and optical) instruments, will constitute the first space system in the world allowing continuous surveillance of maritime traffic. 

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Kleos Space Scouting Mission Launch Scheduled for November

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 17 September 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS, Frankfurt:KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company is pleased to provide an update on the Kleos Scouting Mission launching on the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) PSLV-C49 Mission from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota Range in India (SHAR).

The Company has been informed (by NSIL via Spaceflight Inc.) that the launch of the four Kleos satellites planned on-board PSLV-C49 mission is being targeted during the 1st half of November 2020, based on the current status of planning of activities. This schedule is subject to change due to operational circumstances beyond NSIL control.

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Virtual Conference to Focus on Indian Space Program

PSLV-C48 launch (Credit: ISRO)

The virtual International Space Conference and Exhibition, scheduled for Sept. 15-17, will focus on the Indian government’s efforts to commercial its space program.

The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) is organizing the conference in association with the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and the Antrix Corporation Limited (ANTRIX) with support from NewSpace India Limited.

“Ushering the new era for Indian space sector” is the theme of the conference and exhibition. It will include the participation of Indian space officials and entrepreneurs as well as representatives from foreign space programs.

You can find more information about the conference and how to sign up here.

Russian Company to Provide Spacesuits for India

Indian astronaut in training. (Credit: Roscosmos)

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Research, Development & Production Enterprise Zvezda under the contract of Glavkosmos with the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has started manufacturing personal flight equipment for the Indian cosmonauts undergoing training in Russia.

“On September 3, Indian cosmonauts who have been training for a spaceflight in Russia under the contract of Glavkosmos, visited Zvezda, where their anthropometric parameters were measured for the subsequent production of spacesuits. The contract also provides for the production of individual seats and custom-made couch liners,” said CEO of Glavkosmos Dmitry Loskutov.

The contract for the production and delivery of individual equipment kits for Indian cosmonauts was signed by Glavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of ISRO on March 11, 2020. Indian cosmonauts have been training in Russia since February 10, 2020.

Indian Spaceport Becomes COVID-19 Hot Spot as Launch Drought Continues

PSLV rocket (Credit: ISRO)

The New Indian Express reports that India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center, which has not conducted a launch in nine months, has become a COVID-19 hot spot.

For the second day in a row, India’s spaceport has recorded around 31 new Covid-19 cases causing serious headache for the administration. A total of 90 people, who were primary and secondary contacts of infected persons, were tested of which 31 are diagnosed positive.

Despite the sudden spurt in cases, Shar administration has decided not to suspend the operations and 50 per cent staff are asked to attend the duty. “The Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) works are going on in full swing. We are hopeful of launching maiden SSLV flight by end of this year,” a senior ISRO official said….

But, the people who are worst affected are the contract engineers residing outside Shar colonies. A contract employee said that he did not receive salary since last four months and with rising Covid-19 cases the possibility of a call back looks grim.

ISRO has not conducted an orbital launch from the facility this year. The Indian space agency usually launches five or six times annually. India’s most recent launch was on Dec. 11, 2019.

The Moon Is Rusting, and Researchers Want to Know Why

The Moon as viewed by NASA’s Mariner 10 in 1973, well before research would find signs of rust on the airless surface. (Credits: NASA/JPL/Northwestern University)

While our Moon is airless, research indicates the presence of hematite, a form of rust that normally requires oxygen and water. That has scientists puzzled.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Mars has long been known for its rust. Iron on its surface, combined with water and oxygen from the ancient past, give the Red Planet its hue. But scientists were recently surprised to find evidence that our airless Moon has rust on it as well.

A new paper in Science Advances reviews data from the Indian Space Research Organization’s Chandrayaan-1 orbiter, which  discovered water ice and mapped out a variety of minerals while surveying the Moon’s surface in 2008.

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Kleos to Launch Second Satellite Cluster on SpaceX Falcon 9

Kleos Scouting Mission (Credit: Kleos Space)

LUXEMBOURG, 13 August 2020 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space (ASX: KSS, Frankfurt: KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service company, today announces that as part of the expansion of its constellation a contract has been signed with rideshare provider Spaceflight Inc to manifest a cluster of Kleos satellites on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch, scheduled for mid-2021.

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Unlocking India’s Potential in Space Sector

As Approved by the Union Cabinet on 24 June 2020

The Indian Space programme is characterized by a vision to use space technology for national development. The primary objective of the space programme is to establish operational space services in a self-reliant manner in the thrust areas of satellite communication, satellite-based resource survey/management, satellite navigation, satellite meteorological applications and other emerging areas and to carry out sustained research and development in these areas.

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