India to Prosecute Former ISRO Chairman

G. Madhavan Nair

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation said this week it is moving ahead with plans to prosecute former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair and seven others over a satellite transponder leasing deal signed in 2005 between Devas Multimedia and ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation.

Under the now-voided agreement, Devas Multimedia would have paid $300 million to lease S band transponders on a pair of satellite paid for, built and launched by ISRO using public money.

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India Plans Mission to Venus

By Ultraviolet Imager (UVI), at around 2:19 p.m. on Dec. 7 (Japan Standard Time) at the Venus altitude of about 72,000 km. (Credit: JAXA)

After successful missions to the moon and Mars, ISRO is looking to send an orbiter to Venus.

The Indian space agency has issued an announcement of opportunity for proposals to send “novel space based experiments” on the mission.

“The payload capability of the proposed satellite is likely to be 175 kg with 500W of power,” the announcement states. “However these values are to be tuned based on the final configuration. The proposed orbit is expected to be around 500 x 60,000 km around Venus.  This orbit is likely to be reduced gradually, over several months to a lower apoapsis.”

The announcement does not indicate when the mission would be launched.

Report: Google Lunar XPrize Field Narrows

SpaceIL lander (Credit: SpaceIL)

It looks as if Team SpaceIL is out of the $30 million Google Lunar XPrize.

Quartz reports the Israeli team will not be able to launch its lander/rover to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster until some time next year — too late to meet the end-of-2017 deadline required to win the prize.

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ISRO Commissions Advanced Hypersonic Wind Tunnel

Hypersonic wind tunnel (Credit: ISRO)

SATISH DHAWAN, India (ISRO PR) — In the quest to reduce the cost of access to space and to extend the frontiers of space exploration, ISRO has ventured into Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) and Re-entry missions, Air-breathing propulsion technology demonstration and Interplanetary missions. These missions encounter design criticalities at Hypersonic Mach number regime and need rigorous aero-thermodynamic characterisation at these Mach numbers.

In order to cater to the above need, Industrial type Hypersonic Wind Tunnel and Shock Tunnel have been established at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC).

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ISRO Budget to Increase 23 Percent, Venus & Mars Missions Planned

ISRO will be getting a 23 percent increase in its budget and will be aiming for its first mission to Venus and a second one to Mars.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love affair with space is quite evident. The government, it seems, is rather pleased with the Indian space agency as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley gave the Department of Space a whopping 23 per cent increase in its budget. Under the space sciences section, the Budget mentions provisions “for Mars Orbiter Mission II and Mission to Venus”.

The second mission to Mars is tentatively slated for the 2021-2022 timeframe and as per existing plans it may well involve putting a robot on the surface of the Red Planet.

While ISRO’s first mission to Mars, undertaken in 2013, was purely an Indian mission, the French space agency wants to collaborate with ISRO in making the Mars rover.

In fact, on a visit to India this month, Michael M Watkins, Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA, said they would be keen to at least put a telematics module so NASA’s rovers and the Indian satellites are able to talk to each other.

India’s maiden mission to Venus, the second planet of the Solar System named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty, is in all probability going to be a modest orbiter mission.

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ISRO Tests GSLV Mark III Cryogenic Upper Stage

GSLV Mark III upper stage engine test. Credit: ISRO

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully tested its indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) for GSLV MkIII on February 17, 2017. The cryogenic stage designated as C25 was tested for a flight duration of 640 seconds at ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri. C25 Stage had earlier been tested successfully for 50 seconds on January 25, 2017 to validate all the systems.

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ISRO’s PSLV Lofts 104 Satellites Into Orbit


SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — In its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 714 kg Cartosat-2 Series Satellite along with 103 co-passenger satellites today morning (February 15, 2017) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty eighth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the 104 satellites carried on-board PSLV-C37 was 1378 kg.

PSLV-C37 lifted off at 0928 hrs (9:28 am) IST, as planned, from the First Launch Pad. After a flight of 16 minutes 48 seconds, the satellites achieved a polar Sun Synchronous Orbit of 506 km inclined at an angle of 97.46 degree to the equator (very close to the intended orbit) and in the succeeding 12 minutes, all the 104 satellites successfully separated from the PSLV fourth stage in a predetermined sequence beginning with Cartosat-2 series satellite, followed by INS-1 and INS-2. The total number of Indian satellites launched by PSLV now stands at 46.

After separation, the two solar arrays of Cartosat-2 series satellite were deployed automatically and ISRO’s Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) at Bangalore took over the control of the satellite. In the coming days, the satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration following which it will begin to provide remote sensing services using its panchromatic (black and white) and multispectral (colour) cameras.

Of the 103 co-passenger satellites carried by PSLV-C37, two – ISRO Nano Satellite-1 (INS-1) weighing 8.4 kg and INS-2 weighing 9.7 kg – are technology demonstration satellites from India.

The remaining 101 co-passenger satellites carried were international customer satellites from USA (96), The Netherlands (1), Switzerland (1), Israel (1), Kazakhstan (1) and UAE (1).

With today’s successful launch, the total number of customer satellites from abroad launched by India’s workhorse launch vehicle PSLV has reached 180.

ISRO’s PSLV Set to Launch Record 104 Satellites

PSLV-C37 booster (Credit: ISRO)

SRIHARIKOTA, India (ISRO PR) — India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its thirty ninth flight (PSLV-C37), will launch the 714 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation and 103 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 664 kg at lift-off into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). PSLV-C37 will be launched from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota. It will be the sixteenth flight of PSLV in ‘XL’ configuration (with the use of solid strap-on motors).

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High Altitude Flight Acceptance Test of CE20 Engine Conducted Successfully

CE20 flight engine for GSLV MKIII (LVM3)-D1 mission. (Credit: ISRO)
CE20 flight engine for GSLV MKIII (LVM3)-D1 mission. (Credit: ISRO)

MAHENDRAGIRI, India (ISRO PR) — GSLV MKIII, the future launch vehicle of ISRO, capable of launching 4-ton class spacecraft into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) is in the advanced stage of realisation. It consists of two solid strap-on (S200) motors, one earth storable liquid core stage (L110) and the indigenously developed C25 cryogenic stage. The C25 stage is powered by CE20 cryogenic engine.

The first CE20 flight engine acceptance test was successfully conducted for a duration of 25 seconds in high altitude simulation test facility during December 2016. This flight acceptance test is an important milestone for ISRO as it could successfully cross the major engine development endeavors in the maiden attempt. This engine was conceived, configured, designed, fabricated and developed by Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC).

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Arianespace Signed 13 Launch Contracts in Past Year

Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)
Flight VS13 was the 13th Soyuz liftoff performed from French Guiana since this vehicle’s 2011 introduction at the Spaceport. (Credit: Arianespace)

While Elon Musk and SpaceX have been dominating the media spotlight with their spectacular Falcon 9 first-stage landings and even more spectacular launch pad firexplanomaly, Arianespace has quietly went about the task of putting satellites into orbit and signing new launch contracts.

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The Year in Suborbital Launches

The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)
The New Shepard capsule separates from its booster as the abort motor fires. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Although orbital launch vehicles get all the glory (and infamy when they fail), 2016 was also a busy year for the far less glamorous suborbital launch sector. There were 19 suborbital launches at various sites around the world, and two more sounding rocket launches of note where the payload didn’t go above 100 km.
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ISRO Signs Deal for Privately Built Satellite

ISRO_logoIn a move toward privatization, ISRO has signed a deal with a consortium of six companies to deliver India’s first industry-built satellite.

The contract signed on Friday includes assembly, integration and testing (AIT) of two spare navigation satellites consecutively in around 18 months. It was signed between M. Annadurai, Director of ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC), and the consortium lead, Alpha Design Technologies P Ltd. ISAC assembles the country’s satellites for communication, remote sensing and navigation.

From the third year, Indian industry could expect competitive bids for a new lot of spacecraft of 300-500-kg class, perhaps five a year, for both ISRO and for export, Col. H.S. Shankar (retd), CMD of Alpha Design, told The Hindu. This is the first time that ISRO has outsourced an entire satellite to industry, said Col. Shankar .

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Smith, Babin Examine Policy Governing Indian Launch Vehicles

Lamar Smith
Lamar Smith

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Brian Babin (R-Texas) yesterday sent letters to four senior officials following up on requests for information about the current U.S. policy governing the export of U.S. commercial satellites for launch on Indian launch vehicles.

On July 6 Chairmen Smith and Babin wrote Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren, Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, and U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, seeking this information.

Yesterday’s letters reiterate requests for a briefing and documentation on the current U.S. policy. The letters can be found here.

PSLV-C35 Successfully Launches Eight Satellites into Two Different Orbits

PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)
PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)

BANGALORE (ISRO PR) — In its thirty seventh flight (PSLV-C35), ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle successfully launched the 371 kg SCATSAT-1 Satellite along with seven co-passenger satellites today morning (September 26, 2016) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the thirty sixth consecutively successful mission of PSLV. The total weight of all the eight satellites carried on-board PSLV-C35 was 675 kg. PSLV-C35 is the first PSLV mission to launch satellites carried onboard into two different orbits. This PSLV mission was the longest of the PSLV missions conducted till date and was completed in 2 hours 15 minutes and 33 seconds after lift-off.

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Spaceflight Industries Successfully Launches BlackSky Pathfinder Satellite

PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)
PSLV-C35 launch (Credit: ISRO)

SEATTLE, Sept. 26, 2016 (Spaceflight Industries PR) – Spaceflight Industries, a next-generation space company enabling access to space and redefining global intelligence, announced the successful launch of its BlackSky Pathfinder-1 satellite into a sun synchronous orbit from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). From Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, India, liftoff occurred on Sunday Sept. 25 at 11:42 p.m. EDT with the satellite separating from the rocket’s upper stage at 1:57 a.m. EDT Monday.

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