CNES Directors Give Approval to Trishna, Space Inspire Programs

PARIS LES HALLES, France (CNES PR) — On Thursday, 12 March, CNES’s Board of Directors convened for its 362nd session at the agency’s Head Office in Paris Les Halles, giving the go-ahead to engage France in the development of the French-Indian Trishna programme and to pursue activities for the new Space Inspire series of flexible satellites, as well as development of equipment for the spacecraft bus and shared payload.

Trishna is a mission to deliver thermal-infrared imagery of Earth’s surface at high spatial and temporal resolution. Its observations will help to gain fresh insights into the water cycle and improve management of the planet’s water resources, at a time when the local impacts of climate change are being felt increasingly around the globe.

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Indian Astronaut Candidates Start Training in Russia

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — This Monday Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC) has started the planned training program of Indian candidates for a spaceflight under the contract between Glavkosmos, JSC (part of the State Space Corporation Roscosmos) and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

After thorough selection, the four Indian Air Force fighter pilots became the ISRO candidates for the spaceflight.

The 12-month training program includes comprehensive and biomedical training of the Indian candidates, which will be combined with regular physical practices. In addition, they will study in detail the systems of the Soyuz manned spaceship, as well as they will be trained in short-term weightlessness mode aboard the special Il-76MDK aircraft.

The Indian pilots will also be trained to act correctly in case of abnormal landing of the manned spaceship descent module in various climate and geographic zones. The most part of the training will take place at the GCTC facilities.

The contract for training of the Indian candidates for a spaceflight between Gavkosmos and the Human Spaceflight Centre of the Indian Space Research Organisation was signed on June 27, 2019. The document implies the support of Glavkosmos in selection of candidates, their medical examination, and various aspects of space training.

Exolaunch Is Awarded a PSLV Launch Contract for Spire’s Satellites

Exolaunch will support the deployment of Spire’s Lemur-class 3U cubesats on the Indian PSLV early this year.

Singapore (Exolaunch PR) — Germany’s Exolaunch, the leading launch services and separation system provider for small satellites, confirmed that it will arrange a milestone cubesat launch to send four of Spire’s cubesats into low-inclination orbit on the Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) in early 2020.

With this launch, Spire Global – a data analytics company with the world’s largest constellation of satellites for weather, maritime and aircraft data tracking – aims to diversify its satellite orbits. The mission will also serve as the springboard for an exciting new collaboration between Exolaunch and Indian launch services provider, New Space India Limited (NSIL) – the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). 

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India Developing New Spaceport for Small Payloads

IANS reports that ISRO has begun buying up land to build a second spaceport to accommodate small satellite launches. ISRO Chairman K. Sivan revealed the plans in a press conference on Wednesday.

“The Tamil Nadu government has begun acquiring about 2,300 acres of land in Thoothukudi district for our second satellite launch port, ideally located for launching smaller satellites in the earth”s lower orbit,” the Indian Space Research Organisation Chairman told reporters here.

“The new location is ideal for launching smaller satellites of less than 500kg in the sun-synchronous orbit,” said Sivan.

India launches it satellites from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota. The PSLV, GSLV Mk. II and GSLV Mk. III boosters are launched from the spaceport.

ISRO is developing a new booster, rather creatively called the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (or SSLV), to serve that market. Currently, small satellites are launched as secondary payloads or as part of dedicated missions aboard India’s existing boosters.

ISRO Confirms Chandrayaan-3 Lunar Landing Mission

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO Chairman K. Sivan confirmed the Indian space agency will launch a new lunar lander and rover to replace the ones that crashed as part of the Chandrayaan-2 mission last year. The BBC reports:

He said the country was aiming to launch the mission in 2020 but that it “may spill over” to 2021….

Mr Sivan said the new mission would land in the same area, and would “have a lander, rover and propulsion module like its predecessor”. The new equipment is set to cost some $35m (£26m), while the full cost of the mission is set to be significantly more.

Jitendra Singh, junior minister for the department of space, has said the new mission will be “quite economical”.

“The orbiter is already there. So we are going to be cutting cost,” he told the Times of India.

India Selects 4 Pilots for First Gaganyaan Space Mission

Capsule descending under parachute (Credit: ISRO)

ISRO says it has selected four pilots from the Indian Air Force to begin training in Russia later this month for the first Gaganyaan orbital mission. The Hindu reports that Chairman K. Sivan made the announcement on New Year’s Day.

The initial tests were conducted in the IAF’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bengaluru, and Russia. The four will leave in the third week of January to be trained at the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Centre in Moscow, as per an agreement signed between the space agencies of the two countries last year.

Gaganyaan, announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2018, is the ₹10,000-crore Indian human space flight scheduled for 2022. It is designed to have 3-7 crew members spend 3-7 days in space in a 400-km orbit.

Dr. Sivan said Gaganyaan activities were on track. However it was not known yet how many astronauts would finally travel to space.

The first of the two pre-Gaganyaan flights with a humanoid will be launched this year-end along with some of the six shortlisted micro-gravity experiments, Dr. Sivan said. 

PSLV Launches 10 Satellites on 50th Flight

PSLV C-48 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — Today, India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its fiftieth flight (PSLV-C48), successfully launched RISAT-2BR1 along with nine commercial satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. 

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India Plans First Human Spaceflight for December 2021

Escape tower fires (Credit: ISRO)

NEW DELHI (Department of Space PR) — The Human Space Mission: Gaganyaan is targeted for December 2021. The Gaganyaan Programme has been approved by the Government of India. The design and configuration of major subsystem are finalized. The procurement and system/ subsystem realisation for tests and flight has commenced.

The crew selection and training process for Gaganyaan mission is progressing well including the training in Russia under Gaganyaan Mission.

GSLV Mk III launcher which is ISRO’s heavy lift launcher is identified for Gaganyaan mission. It has requisite payload carrying capacity for Orbital module in desired elliptical orbit. Process for human rating of GSLV Mk-III is progressing well.

ISRO has wide experience in technological areas with respect to Launch vehicle, spacecraft management, ground infrastructure etc. ISRO has taken steps for human rating of existing systems to ensure crew safety.

In certain areas where ISRO lacks experience such as Human centric systems, crew training, crew recovery etc., ISRO is planning to collaborate with national and international agencies. MoUs in this regard have already been signed with DRDO labs, Indian Air Force and Russian space agency.

This information was provided by the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh in written reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.

ISRO Chief: We Found Vikram Rover First, Not NASA

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

ISRO Chairman K Sivan is disputing that idea that NASA was the first to positively identified the wreckage of India’s Vikram lunar lander after its location was discovered by Indian amateur astronomer Shanmuga Subramanium.

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Vikram Lander Wreckage Found on Lunar Surface

This image shows the Vikram Lander impact point and associated debris field. Green dots indicate spacecraft debris (confirmed or likely). Blue dots locate disturbed soil, likely where small bits of the spacecraft churned up the regolith. “S” indicates debris identified by Shanmuga Subramanian. This portion of the Narrow Angle Camera mosaic was made from images M1328074531L/R and M1328081572L/R acquired Nov. 11. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — The Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander was targeted for a highland smooth plain about 600 kilometers from the south pole; unfortunately the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) lost contact with their lander shortly before the scheduled touchdown (Sept. 7 in India, Sept. 6 in the United States).  Despite the loss, getting that close to the surface was an amazing achievement.

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera team released the first mosaic (acquired Sept. 17) of the site on Sept. 26 and many people have downloaded the mosaic to search for signs of Vikram. Shanmuga Subramanian contacted the LRO project with a positive identification of debris. After receiving this tip, the LROC team confirmed the identification by comparing before and after images.

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)

When the images for the first mosaic were acquired the impact point was poorly illuminated and thus not easily identifiable. Two subsequent image sequences were acquired on Oct. 14 and 15, and Nov. 11.

The LROC team scoured the surrounding area in these new mosaics and found the impact site (70.8810°S,  22.7840°E, 834 m elevation) and associated debris field. The November mosaic had the best pixel scale (0.7 meter) and lighting conditions (72° incidence angle).

Before and after images show the Vikram impact point. Changes to the surface are subtle and are more easily seen in the ratio image presented above. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University)

The debris first located by Shanmuga is about 750 meters northwest of the main crash site and was a single bright pixel identification in that first mosaic (1.3 meter pixels, 84° incidence angle). The November mosaic shows best the impact crater, ray and extensive debris field. The three largest pieces of debris are each about 2×2 pixels and cast a one pixel shadow.

Indian Government Explains Chandrayaan-2’s Failed Lunar Landing

Chandrayaan2 Vikram lander (Credit: ISRO)

The Indian government has provided an explanation of why the Chandrayaan-2’s Vikram lander crashed into the lunar surface on Sept. 2. The Times of India reports:

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Jitendra Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, who looks after the department of space, said the first phase of descent was performed normally from an altitude of 30 kms to 7.4 kms above the moon’s surface and velocity was reduced from 1,683 metres per second to 146 metres per second.

“During the second phase of descent, the reduction in velocity was more than the designed value. 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 meters of the designated landing site,” he said.

Singh reported, however, most components of technology demonstration, including the launch, orbital critical maneuvers, lander separation, de-boost and rough braking were successfully accomplished.

Vikram was India’s first attempt to land on the moon. The vehicle carried a small surface rover named Pragyan that would have been deployed on the surface.

Chandrayaan-2 rover (Credit: ISRO)

The lander and the rover each carried three instruments that were designed to operate for the two-week lunar day.

ISRO has not made the results of its investigation into the landing failure public. The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter continues to return data.

ISRO has said it plans to send another lander to the surface. The vehicle could be launched by the end of 2020.

Glavkosmos to Assist India with Heating, Life Support Systems for Gaganyaan Spacecraft

MOSCOW (Roscosmos PR) — Glavkosmos JSC, part of Roscosmos State Space Corporation, and Human Space Flight Centre of Indian Space Research Organization (HSFC of ISRO) on Friday signed a contract to review a project to assess the possibility of using Russian flight equipment in life support systems and providing thermal regime for the manned spacecraft Gaganyaan.

Dmitry Loskutov, Director General of Glavkosmos, and Dr. Unnikrishnan Nair, Head of the HSFC, signed the contract. The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Deputy Director General for international cooperation of Roscosmos State Space Corporation Sergey Savelyev.

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Chandrayaan-2 Begins Spectroscopic Studies of Lunar Surface

Credit: ISRO

BENGALURU, India (ISRO PR) — Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS) on-board Chandrayaan-2 is designed to measure the reflected sunlight and emitted part of Moon light from the lunar surface in narrow and contiguous spectral channels (bands) ranging from ~800 – 5000 nanometer (0.8-5.0 micrometer (µm)). It uses a grating to split and disperse the reflected sunlight (and emitted component) into different spectral bands.

The major objective of IIRS is to understand the origin and evolution of the Moon in a geologic context by mapping the lunar surface mineral and volatile composition using signatures in the reflected solar spectrum.

The first illuminated image of the lunar surface was acquired by IIRS. The image covers part of the lunar farside in the northern hemisphere. Few prominent craters are seen in the image (Sommerfield, Stebbins and Kirkwood).

Preliminary analysis suggests that IIRS could successfully measure the variations in the reflected solar radiation that bounces off the lunar surface from different kinds of surface types, namely, crater central peaks (e.g., Stebbins), crater floors (e.g., Stebbins and Sommerfield), very fresh reworked ejecta associated with small craterlets within the crater floor of a large crater (e.g., Sommerfield) and also the sun-illuminated inner rims of craters (e.g., Kirkwood).

The variations in the spectral radiance are primarily due to the mineralogical/compositional variations that exist in the lunar surface and also due to the effect of space weathering. More detailed analysis that follows, is expected to yield important results on the heterogeneity of lunar surface composition.

Spaceflight Announces Next Three Rideshare Missions on ISRO’s PSLV

SEATTLE – Oct. 15, 2019 – Spaceflight, the leading satellite rideshare and mission management provider, today announced it will launch 14 more spacecraft from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) this year. Payloads will launch on PSLV’s C47, C48 and C49 missions, scheduled to launch in November and December 2019 from India’s Satish Dhawan Space Center. Customers aboard the missions include Analytical Space, Spire, iQPS and Kleos Space.

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Kleos Space Receives Confirmation for December Launch

Kleos Scouting mission. (Credit: Kleos Space)

Luxembourg, 21 October 201 (Kleos Space PR) — Kleos Space S.A (ASX:KSS, Frankfurt:KS1), a space-powered Radio Frequency Reconnaissance data-as-a-service (DaaS) company, has received confirmation that the Kleos Scouting Mission1 will launch on a PSLV rocket from Chennai, India in December 2019.

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