U.S. Trade Representative Reviewing Indian Access to Launch Market

PSLV rocket lifts off with India's Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

PSLV rocket lifts off with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) is reviewing a 10-year old policy that has largely kept U.S.-built satellites from being launched aboard Indian launch vehicles.

Last week, USTR official Samuel duPont made a presentation about the review to a working group of the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC). Growing demand by American satellite makers for commercial launch services is the reason behind the review.

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India Makes It Two in a Row with Successful GSLV Launch

GSLV Mk.II rocket lifts off with GSAT-6 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

GSLV Mk.II rocket lifts off with GSAT-6 satellite. (Credit: ISRO)

Another success for the Indian space program. On Thursday, ISRO successfully launched the GSAT-6 communications satellite into orbit aboard a GSLV Mk. II rocket.

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ISRO Successfully Tests GSLV-Mk.III Cryogenic Engine

GSLV Mk.III cryogenic engine test. (Credit: ISRO)

GSLV Mk.III cryogenic engine test. (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE, India (ISRO PR) — India’s first indigenously designed and developed High Thrust cryogenic rocket engine generating a nominal thrust of 19 tonnes was successfully endurance hot tested for a duration of 800 seconds on July 16, 2015 at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri. This duration is approximately 25% more than the engine burn duration in flight. The engine will be used for powering the Cryogenic stage (C25), the upper stage of the next generation GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle of ISRO, capable of launching four tonne class satellites.

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ISRO Looks to Private Sector

PSLV rocket lifts off with India's Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

PSLV rocket lifts off with India’s Mars Orbiter Mission. (Credit: ISRO)

India’s space agency is looking to hand off more duties to the private sector:

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning to magnify the role of its industry partners by starting joint ventures with them and readying them to do entire tasks like satellite launches, its Chairman AS Kiran Kumar has said.

The agency has sounded out its commercial arm, Antrix Corporation, to explore such opportunities for specific projects. Internal teams are being formed to draft a plan, he told The Hindu in a recent interview.

For one, Antrix might form ventures with public or private entities that had already been supplying for the space programme. The extent of financing and equity would be decided later. “We hope to have a clear picture in about a year. We have asked Antrix to identify industries and requirements and have initiated discussions internally,” said Mr. Kiran Kumar, who is also Secretary of the Department of Space.

One reason is the backlog of communication satellites that urgently need indigenous GSLV launchers to put them in space. In mid-May, the government sanctioned 15 smaller PSLV launchers, worth Rs. 3,090 crore, which would be built during 2017-20. The ISRO now plans to do two GSLV launches, one commercial and two to three PSLV launches in a year, all requiring intensive engagement with the industry.

ISRO Names 3 New Centre Directors


isroBANGALORE (ISRO PR) — Three major centres of ISRO will have new Directors from June 01, 2015.

Dr K Sivan, Distinguished Scientist and currently Director of Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Thiruvananthapuram, will take over as the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), also at Thiruvananthapuram. He will take over as Director, VSSC from Mr M Chandradathan, who will superannuate by end May 2015.

Mr S Somanath, Outstanding Scientist and currently Associate Director (Projects), VSSC, will assume the office of Director, LPSC. He will take over as Director, LPSC, from Dr K Sivan.

Mr P Kunhikrishnan, Deputy Director (Mechanisms and Vehicle Integration), VSSC will take over as Director, Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. He will take over as Director, SDSC SHAR from Dr M Y S Prasad, who will superannuate by end May 2015.

ISRO Conducts Successful Cyrogenic Engine Test


BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — A major milestone in the development of ISRO’s next generation launch vehicle, GSLV MkIII, was achieved on successful long duration hot test (635 seconds) of high thrust cryogenic engine (CE20) on 28-04-2015 at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The CE20 cryogenic engine is being indigenously developed by ISRO to power the cryogenic stage of GSLV MkIII launch vehicle.

The completion of successful long duration hot test has once again proved ISRO’s capability in mastering the complex cryogenic technology. All subsystems of this engine such as Thrust Chamber, Injector, Gas Generator, LOX & LH2 Turbopumps, Control Components, Pyro systems etc., and the ground Test Facility systems performed very well and the parameters are well within the prediction.

A series of development tests on this engine are being carried out to validate the performance and to prove the design of the engine. Two cold start tests and four short duration hot tests were already carried out on this engine at IPRC, Mahendragiri.

Annadurai Takes Over as Director of ISRO Satellite Centre

M. Annadurai

M. Annadurai

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — Dr M Annadurai, Outstanding Scientist and Programme Director, Indian Remote Sensing Satellites (IRS) and Small Satellite Systems (SSS) of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), Bangalore, has assumed the office of Director, ISAC on April 01, 2015.  He took over as Director, ISAC from Dr S K Shivakumar, who superannuated on March 31, 2015.

Born on July 2, 1958, Dr Annadurai graduated in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Government College of Technology, Coimbatore, obtained his Post Graduate degree in Applied Electronics from PSG College of Technology, Coimbatore and   Doctoral degree from Anna University, Coimbatore.

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ISRO Hypersonic RLV Test Set

Artist's conception of Indian reusable vehicles (Credit: ISRO)

Artist’s conception of Indian reusable vehicles (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO is planning a flight test in its Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program (RLV-TD) in the April to June time frame.

“Technology Demonstrator winged body vehicle weighing 1.5T will be lofted to a height of 70 km using solid booster, thus attaining five times the speed of sound. Thereafter, it will descend by gliding and splashing down into the sea”, said an official statement.

This test flight would demonstrate the Hypersonic aerodynamics characteristics, Avionics system, Thermal protection system, Control system and Mission management.

“Development of Reusable Launch Vehicles is a technical challenge and it involves development of many cutting edge technologies. The magnitude of cost reduction depends on development and realization of fully reusable launch vehicle and its degree of reusability”, said the statement.

ISRO describes the program on its website as follows:

Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstration Program or RLV-TD is a series of technology demonstration missions that have been considered as a first step towards realizing a Two Stage To Orbit (TSTO) fully re-usable vehicle. A Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) has been configured to act as a flying test bed to evaluate various technologies, namely, hypersonic flight, autonomous landing, powered cruise flight and hypersonic flight using air-breathing propulsion.

These technologies will be developed in phases through a series of experimental flights. The first in the series of experimental flights is the hypersonic flight experiment (HEX) followed by the landing experiment (LEX), return flight experiment (REX) and scramjet propulsion experiment (SPEX). Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator Hypersonic Experiment (RLV-TD HEX1) wherein the hypersonic aero-thermo dynamic characterization of winged re-entry body along with autonomous mission management to land at a specified location and characterization of hot structures are planned to be demonstrated.


New Director of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre Named

Tapan Misra (Credit: ISRO)

Tapan Misra (Credit: ISRO)

Mr. Tapan Misra, Outstanding Scientist and Deputy Director, Microwave Remote Sensing Area of ISRO’s Space Applications Centre (SAC), Ahmedabad, has assumed the office of the Director, SAC.

Mr Tapan Misra graduated in Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering from Jadavpur University, Calcutta in 1984. He was awarded the prestigious Sir J C Bose National Talent Search (JBNSTS) Scholarship in 1981.

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U.S., India to Deepen Cooperation in Space


india-flagPresident Barack Obama is on a state visit to India. The U.S. and Indian governments released a joint statement focusing on areas of cooperation, including enhanced cooperation in space. The following are excerpts from the statement.

The Prime Minister and the President acknowledged and expressed satisfaction at the qualitative reinvigoration of strategic ties and the intensity of substantive interactions since the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington in September 2014.  They appreciated the focused action and accomplishments by both sides on the decisions taken during the Summit in September and in this regard, they welcomed:

  • The 30 September 2014 signing of an implementing agreement between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to conduct the joint NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi agreed to further promote cooperative and commercial relations between India and the United States in the field of space.  The leaders noted the on-going interactions between their space agencies, including towards realizing a dual frequency radar imaging satellite for Earth Sciences, and exploring possibilities for cooperation in studying Mars.

The Leaders took note of ongoing U.S.-India space cooperation, including the first face-to-face meeting of the ISRO-NASA Mars Working Group from 29-31 January 2015 in Bangalore, in which the two sides will consider opportunities for enhanced cooperation in Mars exploration, including potential coordinated observations and analysis between ISRO’s Mars Orbiter Mission and NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission (MAVEN).  The Prime Minister and the President also welcomed continued progress toward enhanced space cooperation via the U.S.-India Civil Space Joint Working Group, which will meet later this year in India.

ISRO Names New Chairman

A S Kiran Kumar

A S Kiran Kumar

NEW DELHI, India (ISRO PR) — Mr A S Kiran Kumar, Distinguished Scientist (Apex) and Director, Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad, assumed the office of the Secretary, Department of Space, Chairman, Space Commission and Chairman, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today (January 14, 2015).

Mr Kiran Kumar is a highly accomplished space scientist and engineer with a distinguished career spanning over four decades in ISRO in the satellite payload and applications domains.

He has made immense contributions to the design and development of Electro-Optical Imaging Sensors for Airborne, Low Earth Orbit and Geostationary Orbit satellites starting from Bhaskara TV payload to the latest Mars Colour Camera, Thermal Infrared Imaging Spectrometer and Methane Sensor for Mars instruments of India’s Mars Orbiter Spacecraft, which has successfully completed one hundred days in Mars Orbit recently.

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ISRO Chairman Departs on High Note


K Radhakrishnan

ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan has retired, ending his five-year tenure as head of India’s space agency on a high note following the successes of Mars Orbiter Mission and the inaugural launch of the GSLV Mark III rocket.

Indian media are reporting that Shailesh Nayak, secretary in the ministry of the earth sciences, has been given the responsibility of running ISRO until a replacement for Radhakrishnan is named in about a month.

The resignation will allow Prime Minster Narendra Modi, who was elected in May, the opportunity to appoint a new chairman for the space agency.

Indian media report that Radhakrishnan’s term in office was supposed to expire in August, but he was given a four-month extension that allowed him to preside over the launch of the first GSLV Mark III rocket in December.

Worldwide Launches Hit 20-Year High in 2014

Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

Orion Exploration Flight Test launch. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

It was a banner year for launches worldwide in 2014, with the total reaching a 20-year high as Russia and India debuted new launch vehicles, NASA tested its Orion crew spacecraft, China sent a capsule around the moon, and Japan launched a spacecraft to land on an asteroid.

There were a total of 92 orbital launches, the highest number since the 93 launches conducted in 1994. In addition, Russia and India conducted successful suborbital tests of new boosters.

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ISRO Hails Successful First Flight of GSLV Mark III Rocket

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

GSLV Mark III inaugural flight test. (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — The first experimental flight (GSLV Mk-III X/CARE) of India’s next generation launch vehicle GSLV Mk-III was successfully conducted today (December 18, 2014) morning from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. Also known as LVM3-X/CARE, this suborbital experimental mission was intended to test the vehicle performance during the critical atmospheric phase of its flight and thus carried a passive (non-functional) cryogenic upper stage.

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ISRO Launches First GSLV Mark III Rocket


ISRO has launched its first GSLV Mark III booster on a suborbital flight test, apparently successfully. However, details are rather sparse at this hour about how exactly how well things went. The only thing the on the ISRO website is:

GSLV Mk-III X successfully launches the Crew Module Atmospheric Re-entry Experiment – CARE on Dec 18, 2014

There are Twitter reports that CARE splashed down successfully.

More details as they become available.