ISRO Chairman K Sivan Lays Out 10 Year Plan for Indian Space Program

Dr. K Sivan (Credit: ISRO)

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — In the future, when we look back upon the year 2020, we will be reminded of the trials and tribulations caused in our official as well as personal lives, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Notwithstanding this situation, huge quantity of work progressed in virtual mode in design and development of systems.

Gaganyaan & Chandrayaan-3 major technical issues were addressed. The concept of virtual LCC and SCC got evolved and implemented. In fact, this mode of work appears to be more efficient and can be the new normal. Even where field work was involved, the activities were completed with minimum travel and social distancing.

And thanks to the dedicated and hardworking personnel, who carried on the torch of progress and made sure that we complete two hugely successful launches by the end of the year. These achievements, even during hard times, in the face of financial & human resource constraints, is truly commendable and speaks volumes about the resourcefulness of team ISRO.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

India’s Gaganyaan Human Spaceflight Program Delayed by 1 Year Due to Covid-19

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

PTI reports that India’s human space flight program is likely to be delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the mandate of Gaganyaan, two uncrewed missions would be undertaken prior to the manned mission. Accordingly, the unmanned missions were slated for launch in December 2020 and July 2021, and the first manned mission was scheduled in December 2021.

“That will be delayed because of COVID,” ISRO Chairman, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, told PTI. “We are targeting for sometime next year-end or the subsequent year,” he said on the expected time-line for the first of the two proposed uncrewed missions.

The Gaganyaan project has the objective of demonstrating human space flight capability to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) with three crew members in orbit and safely recovering them after the mission.

COVID-19 has significantly slowed India’s space program this year. ISRO typically launches about six times annually. The space agency launched for the first time and only time this year on Nov. 7. ISRO’s second and possibly final launch of 2020 is scheduled for Nov. 14.

Private Launch Company Agnikul Cosmos Signs NDA that Allows Access to ISRO Facilities

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Department of Space has today (3rd Dec. 2020) entered into a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) with M/s Agnikul Cosmos Pvt. Ltd, a Chennai based start-up company located in the National Centre for Combustion R&D, IITM, Chennai building private small satellite launch vehicle.

Under the NDA, the company will be enabled for accessing the facilities and technical expertise available in ISRO centers to proceed with their launch vehicle development program.

The agreement is the first one of its kind, the Department has signed after the establishment of IN-SPACe, the authorization and regulatory body under DOS for enabling private players to undertake space activities in India.

The NDA was signed in the presence of Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, DOS/ Chairman, ISRO, and Prof. Bhaskar Ramamurthi, Director, IIT Madras. Shri R Umamaheswaran, Scientific Secretary, ISRO, was the signatory on behalf of Department of Space for the NDA with M/S Agnikul Cosmos Pvt Ltd. Shri Srinath Ravichandran, CEO, Aginukul signed the NDA on behalf of the company.

Dr K Sivan along with ISRO Centre Directors; Shri S Somanath, Director, VSSC, Dr V Narayanan, Director, LPSC, Shri Sam Dayala Dev, Director, IISU and Shri K Alagavelu, Director, IPRC assured all support to M/s Agnikul for testing and qualifying their launch vehicle.

The event ended with the wishes from the ISRO team to Agnikul for a grand success in their Space endeavor.

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. 

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Kleos Space’s Launch Team Arrive in India for Final Launch Preparations

LUXEMBOURG, 16 October 2020 (Kleos Space PR) – Kleos Space S.A, a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, confirms that their team mission experts have arrived in Chennai, India in preparation for the launch of Kleos’ four Scouting Mission nanosatellites aboard PSLV C49 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, with launch targeted for the 1st half of November 2020.

Despite the unprecedented 2020 challenges of the launch industry to follow schedule, Kleos Space’s Gavin Bowyer supported by Ed Stevens from In-Space and mission manager Marcy Rugland from Spaceflight arrived in Chennai yesterday at 3:00 am local time.

(more…)

India Exempts Space Companies From 18% Tax

Zee News reports the Indian government has approved a major tax break for space companies:

Indian start-ups in the space sector have welcomed the government’s latest announcement to scrap the 18% GST that is levied on firms launching Indian satellites using ISRO rockets. This levy of GST on Indian firms had been forcing Indian satellite-builders to launch their satellites from foreign soil using foreign rockets.

Ironically, foreign firms were exempt from paying this 18% GST, if and when they wanted to launch their satellites using ISRO’s rockets from India. Often, Indian firms had to register as a foreign company, in order to circumvent the Goods and Services Tax and launch at a lesser cost. The Indian private sector is said to have been in talks with the government for nearly two years to have this GST levy scrapped.

Making the announcement at a Finance Ministry Press Conference on Monday, Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said, lots of start-ups were making satellites in India and that some had to go abroad to use foreign rockets and put them into orbit. “In order to encourage domestic launching of Satellites by ISRO and Antrix Corporation (ISRO’s commercial arm), GST Council has decided that 18pc GST will completely be exempt” he added.

France, China to Cooperate on Earth Observation, Lunar Exploration and More

PARIS (CNES PR) — Monday, September 28, 2020, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, met with Zhang Kejian, Administrator of the CNSA (China National Space Administration). 

Their last meeting took place in Beijing on November 5, 2019 on the occasion of the official visit of the President of the Republic to China and the signing of the Joint Declaration on Cooperation Relating to the Chang’e 6 Mission and a Mission satellite for monitoring the water cycle.

(more…)

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. 

(more…)