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Saturday, September 29, 2007

ISRO aims Mars mission

Hyderabad, Sept.27 With the mission to the Moon on course of preparations, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has now set its eyes on the red planet — Mars. ISRO has unveiled preliminary ideas of sending a spacecraft to Mars. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), will be capable of sending a 500 kg orbiter (spacecraft) to the Mars, said the ISRO chief, Mr N. Madhavan Nair.

With new excitement on lunar missions from countries such as Japan, China, India, Russia and the US and the US’s long-term programme to Mars, capturing the imagination at the ongoing 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), here, Mr Nair’s pointers to India joining the Mars bandwagon also seemed most appropriate.

He urged the scientific community to come up with ideas to crystallise the objectives for the Mars mission and thereafter a definitive project could be put in place. At present the technical capability to send a spacecraft to Mars exists, the ISRO chief said.

On the Moon mission, Chandrayaan I was on course and is expected to take off in the summer of 2008. With increased co-operation between ISRO and NASA (National Aeronautical Space Agency) of US, at least two US payloads are expected to fly on Chandrayaan I by the PSLV to the Moon’s orbit for studies, he said.

The ISRO is also ready with the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), which is a constellation of small satellites in the low earth orbit, intended to boost a wide range of communication systems.

The first of the seven satellites intended to be launched for the IRNSS would be scheduled for the end of 2008. The rest would be in place by 2011. The IRNSS is estimated to cost around Rs 1,600 crores and is India’s own regional answer to bigger GPS (Global Positioning Systems) projects like Galileo (Europe), Glonass (Russian) etc. The Chinese are also reportedly building their own regional constellation.

On the launch plans, Mr Nair said ISRO has decided to launch 60 satellites in the next five years from Sriharikota. These satellites would be used for communications, meteorology, studying oceans, atmosphere, environment and specific scientific projects.

European space agencies keen on outsourcing work to India

Hyderabad: Top space organisations of Europe are keen to outsource sub-systems and components for their space missions to India but are unable to do so due to political hurdles.

Under the European Space Agency (ESA) rules, the 17 member organisations cannot outsource the work but some of them wished they were allowed to do this to leverage on the cost benefit and reliable Indian research and development.

"We would like to outsource to India but we can't do it because the money of European tax payers has gone into the space programmes and they would not like to see outsourcing taking away the jobs from the local people," Christophe Bardou, programme director of Arianespace's commercial directorate, told IANS.

The French commercial launch service leader, which is part of ESA, has an over three-decade-old relationship with India, having launched 13 Insat satellites for the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) so far.

Bardou, who is attending the ongoing space expo being held here as part of the 58th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), was all praise for the Indian space programme saying it has strong political backing.

"There is a strong political will for space development. The Indian space industry has the wherewithal to develop key sub-systems and components with reliable technology," he said.

He said ISRO, which was now capable of launching medium satellites of two tonnes, would be able to double the capacity in two to three years with the launch of GSLV Mark III.

Arianespace, which has marketing arrangements with ISRO for light payloads, mini and micro satellites and PSLV, will next year launch the W2M satellite developed by ISRO under contract with Astrim for Eutelsat Communications.

DLR, the German Aerospace Centre, also feels that India was entering the big global market. "It has the advantage of good software development," said Ulrich Kohler of Institute of Planetary Research, DLR.

According to him, things move quickly in India unlike in Japan where there is too much bureaucracy.

Swedish Space Corporation, which is planning to use nano-technology in its space missions, said it would like to discuss outsourcing with India. "There are several areas where we can work together with India," Anna Rathsman of the Swedish Space Corporation said.

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