PSLV-C43 successfully launches HysIS and 30 customer satellites

The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C43) successfully launched 31 satellites from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) in Sriharikota. The PSLV-C43 lifted off at 9:57:30 (IST) from the First Launch Pad and injected India’s Hyper-Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS) into the 645 km sun-synchronous polar orbit, 17 minutes and 19 seconds after the lift-off. Later, 30 foreign satellites were injected into their intended orbit after restarting the vehicles fourth stage engines twice. The last satellite was injected into its designated orbit 1 hour and 49 minutes after the lift-off. After separation, the two solar arrays of HysIS were deployed automatically and the ISRO Telemetry Tracking and Command Network at Bengaluru gained control of the satellite. The satellite will be brought to its final operational configuration in the next few days. HysIS is an earth observation satellite built around ISRO’s Mini Satellite-2 (IMS-2) bus weighing about 380kg. The mission life of the satellite is five years. The primary goal of HysIS is to study the earth’s surface in both the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. Data from the satellite will be used for a wide range of applications including agriculture, forestry, soil/geological environments, coastal zones and inland waters, etc. HysIS had the company of one micro and 29 nano-satellites from eight countries, including Australia (1), Canada (1), Columbia (1), Finland (1), Malaysia (1), Netherlands (1), Spain (1) and USA (23). The total weight of these satellites was about 261.50 kg. Satellites from Australia, Columbia, Malaysia and Spain were flown aboard PSLV for the first time. These foreign satellites launched are part of commercial arrangements between Antrix Corporation Limited and customers. ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan said that the team has achieved another spectacular mission 15 days after the successful GSLV-MkIII/GSAT-29 launch. “Today once again we have proved our excellence,” Dr Sivan said. He said HysIS is a state-of-the-art satellite with many indigenous components developed by SAC, Ahmedabad and SCL, Chandigarh. “Our customers are very happy that their satellites are precisely delivered into orbit. We are ready for the next launch of GSAT-11 on December 5 from French Guiana and later GSLV-MkII will launch GSAT-7A from Sriharikota in December,” Dr Sivan added. Mission Director R Hutton termed the launch as a grand and marvellous one with clockwork precision. “We have used a lighter version of PSLV today. It has once again proven its capabilities to launch multiple satellites into different orbits. All our team members, their family members and industry partners have played a vital role,” Hutton said. HysIS Project Director Mr Suresh K said that the satellite is performing normally after the launch. PSLV is a four stage launch vehicle with a large solid rocket motor forming the first stage, an earth storable liquid stage as the second stage, a high performance solid rocket motor as third stage and a liquid stage with engines as fourth stage. Today’s was the 45th flight of PSLV and 13th one in the Core Alone configuration. So far, the PSLV has launched 44 Indian and nine satellites built by students from Indian universities. The vehicle has also launched 269 international customer satellites. In the last PSLV launch on September 16, PSLV-C42 had successfully launched two commercial satellites from UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology Limited.


First Rafale aircraft made for India takes flight

As the political controversy over the Rafale fighter jet deal continues in India, manufacturing of the aircraft customised as per specifications of the Indian Air Force (IAF) is making progress. The first aircraft built by Dassault Aviation for the IAF, a two-seater variant, made its maiden flight in France and is designated RB 008, according to official sources. “RB stands for Air Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria as he had a major role in the contract negotiations,” an official source said. Air Marshal Bhadauria was the Deputy Chief of the IAF during the contract negotiations for 36 Rafale jets and is presently the Air Officer Commanding-In-Chief of the IAF’s Training Command. In September 2016, India and France signed a €7.87 billion Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in fly-away condition. The surprise announcement for the 36 aircraft was made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a visit to Paris in April 2015, citing “critical operational necessity” of the IAF. RB 008 will be the 36th aircraft to be delivered to the IAF in 2022, 67 months after the contract is signed, the source added. As per terms of the IGA, deliveries will begin 36 months after the signing of the contract and be completed in 67 months.


India’s HAL to Double Annual Production Rate of Tejas Light Combat Aircraft From 8 to 16

India’s state-owned aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will set up a new production facility at Nashik in Maharashtra by 2020 to increase its annual output of Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the head of HAL told The Economic Times on November 2. “We are setting up a new facility at Nashik to double the production of Tejas fighters to 16 from 8 per year,” HAL Chairman and Managing Director, Mr R. Madhavan, said. Notably, HAL has so far failed to meet the eight aircraft per annum quota. The Indian Ministry of Defense (MOD) placed an initial order for 40 Tejas LCA Mark-I with HAL, of which 20 Tejas LCA in initial operational configuration — 16 fighters and four trainers — have been produced so far. The follow-on production of 20 more Tejas LCA is pending final operational clearance (FOC) of the fighter jet by the Indian Aeronautical Development Agency, expected to take occur in the coming months. In another step toward FOC, the Tejas for the first time conducted a hot refueling trial earlier this year. Tejas LCA also participated in the Indian Air Force’s  Gaganshakti 2018 air combat exercise this summer, which involved 1,100 aircrafts and 15,000 military personnel. The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multirole light fighter aircraft that has been under development by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with HAL since the early 1980s. Given the drawn out development cycle, the IAF had to repeatedly revise its requirements for the fourth-generation fighter. As I noted previously, the IAF has repeatedly stated that the aircraft’s Mark-I variant does not meet the service’s specifications: The IAF has listed several technical deficiencies found on the Tejas LCA Mark-I variant in 2017. These flaws will purportedly will be addressed in later variants of the aircraft, which will include 43 improvements over the existing version. Upgrades will include an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, a new electronic warfare sensor suite, and a new externally refueling capability. The IAF is also mulling placing an order for 83 additional Tejas LCA, including 73 single-engine Tejas LCA Mark-IA, and 10 tandem two-seat LCA trainer aircraft. The Indian defense minister stated in a recent interview that an order for additional aircraft has been placed. “[T]o ensure that [HAL’s] order books don’t dry out, we have given orders for 83 more,” Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in an interview in October. However, the order is reportedly pending and no contract has been signed as the aircraft still has to achieve FOC. Another upgraded Tejas variant, designated Tejas Mark-II, of which the IAF could potentially order 200, will not be ready for its first test flight for at least another five years, according to reports. This may spell further trouble for HAL as it is unclear whether the service will still be interested in the latest version of the Tejas by then. Foreign competitors are aggressively pushing into the Indian military aircraft market and may offer cheaper and more effective alternatives. For example, as I reported previously,”the Tejas LCA, when compared to Saab’s JAS-39 Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16, has a reduced airborne endurance — 59 minutes versus three hours for the Gripen and nearly four hours for the F-16. The Tejas can also only carry a weapons payload of around three tons against nearly six tons by the Gripen and seven tons by the F-16.”


Rain-maker aircraft awaits key clearances

Creating artificial rains, Delhi’s quick fix solution to clear up its toxic air, is awaiting one final approval — clearance to the aircraft that will carry out cloud seeding.  Official communication asking for permission is in the process. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change received a request from Hyderabad-based National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) — a centre of Indian Space Research Organisation — to fly the aircraft to Delhi for cloud seeding.  ET had reported on the plan for creating artificial rain for Delhi (“Pollution: Here’s a Plan to Wash Away Delhi’s Toxic Air”).  Multiple approvals are required from four government departments: the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) headquarters, and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), according to a senior official familiar with the development. This official did not want to be identified. The IAF and DGCA didn’t respond to queries sent by ET at the time of going to the press. Experts of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, currently involved in this never-before experiment to tackle pollution also told ET that clearances are required.  Researchers have been ready for a week to make artificial rain happen. “We have been following up with NRSC for the last four days on the clearance for the aircraft which is yet to happen,” said Mr Manindra Agarwal, deputy director, IIT Kanpur.  The official quoted above said, “We are trying to expedite the clearance process to create artificial rains in the city but as Delhi is falling in a high security zone, it would take time.” The Ministry of Environment is coordinating this initiative with government departments concerned along with IIT Kanpur and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).  Researchers at IIT Kanpur have been ready for a week now with the salt solution for seeding the clouds. “The window is small as the cloud formation is just about right to create artificial rains. This condition suitable to create rains is good for today and tomorrow,” said Sachchida Nand Tripathi, a professor at IIT Kanpur working closely with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for the artificial rains.  Artificial rain may help the city get respite, albeit short term, from the toxic air that has been shrouding the region for a fortnight. But government officials are optimistic. “The cloud formation is likely to be favourable for cloud seeding after 4 to 5 days,” said the ministry official.  Cloud seeding involves changing the amount and/or type of precipitation that falls from clouds by dispersing substances (mostly salts) into the air. The dispersion is to be done from an aircraft. The NRSC aircraft has already been mounted with the instrument to spray the solution. This will be the first time that artificial rain will be used to tackle pollution in any Indian city.


ISRO’s ‘Bahubali’ puts communication satellite GSAT-29 in orbit; Mission Moon next

India’s space programme took a giant leap with the successful launch of GSLV MkIII-D2 mission carrying communication satellite GSAT-29. With the success of this flight, the developmental phase of GSLV MkIII vehicle programme has been completed and the vehicle’s operational phase will begin. This is significant because the same rocket will be used for upcoming ‘iconic’ Chandrayaan-2 launch, scheduled for January, and even the human spacecraft mission planned by 2021 end. Standing 43.5 meter tall with a lift-off mass of 641 tons, India’s heaviest rocket lifted-off from Second Launch Pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota (in Andhra Pradesh) at 5.08 pm roaring into clear blue skies. About 17 minutes later, the vehicle injected the satellite into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) as planned. After injection, ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan assumed control of the satellite. In the coming days, three orbit raising manoeuvres will be executed to position the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit at its designated location. Though India Meteorological Department in its afternoon bulletin, just hours before the launch, said squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph was likely to commence along south Andhra Pradesh coast, weather remained calm and pleasant making it perfect for the launch of ‘fat boy’ or ‘Bahubali’ as GSLV MkIII is being referred.

After the successful launch, ISRO Chairman K Sivan said: “India has achieved significant milestone with our heaviest launcher lifting off the heaviest satellite from the Indian soil. The launch vehicle has precisely placed the satellite in its intended orbit. I congratulate entire ISRO team for this achievement.”  Dr V Somanath, Director, VSSC, said GSLV MkIII is the vehicle for the future and efforts are on to enhance the payload carrying capacity of the launcher further with semi-cryogenic stage.  Mr Jayakumar B, Mission Director, GSLV Mark III, said it is the guidance of the mentors at ISRO that helped the team to march ahead while facing obstacles. 90% work by pvt Industry ISRO Chairman complimented the Indian Industry, which carried out 85-90 per cent of the work related to both the launcher and the satellite. He said the role of industry in future missions will also be equally significant. 100 Gbps internet speed by next September
The successful launch of GSAT-29 will propel India’s Internet bandwidth significantly. According to ISRO, by September 2019, India will achieve 100 Gbps) speed on par with any developed country.  ISRO Chairman K Sivan said GSAT-29 is one of the four high throughput satellites, whose combination will help India achieve 100 Gbps under Digital India programme.  Out of the four, GSAT-19 was put in orbit earlier this year, while GSAT-11 is scheduled to be launched on December 4 and GSAT-20 is expected to be launched next year.


IISc only Indian institute in Global University Employability Ranking 2016

The Global University Employability Ranking 2016, compiled by Times Higher Education, reveals which universities recruiters at leading companies around the world think are the best at producing work-ready graduates. Bengaluru-based Indian Institute of Science (IISc), a premier institute in the country that works in the area of scientific research and higher education was ranked 38 out of 150 universities worldwide in the Global University Employability Ranking 2016, It had an overall score of 331. It is the only Indian institute to make it to the list. These 150 universities span 34 different countries, from the US to Japan. Employers voted both, for institutions in their own country and universities around the world for international recruitments. In some countries, graduate jobs are not easy to come by, but in European nations such as France, Switzerland and Germany, professional experience is built into degree programmes. Unsurprisingly then, France, Germany and Switzerland are among the best represented countries in the employability ranking, along with the United Kingdom and the United States.Both Germany and Japan have an institution in the top 10, with Chinese and Canadian universities also appearing high in the ranking.


India’s first privately built satellite to be launched on November 19

The Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket will take off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on a rideshare mission, launching more than 70 satellites from 16 countries into a sun-synchronous polar orbit. The payload will include India’s first privately owned satellite built by a start-up based in Mumbai which is meant to serve the amateur radio (HAM) community of the country during natural calamities.  The mission, named the SSO-A, will be SpaceX’s largest mission so far in terms of the number of satellites launched. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) currently holds the record for launching 103 satellites in a single mission. It is scheduled for take off at 6.32 pm (Greenwich Mean Time) on November 19, or 12.02 am Indian time on November 20.  A team of ten engineers, led by Mr Ashhar Farhan, co-founder of Exseedspace Pvt Ltd, at a lab in Hyderabad have constructed a 1U cube-sized (mini) communication satellite which will be launched by SpaceX. Speaking to TNIE, Mr Kris Nair, CEO, and founder of Exseedspace, set up in 2017, said, “This satellite will serve the ham or the amateur radio community. As a result, it will be of great help during natural calamities, when conventional communication services get disrupted.” Talking about the building of the satellite, Mr Nair said, “Our ten member team of engineers led by Mr Farhan has built the satellite which aims to democratise space exploration for commercial, government and academic customers of all sizes and help them leverage the advances in space technology to achieve business, community and governance goals.” The satellite will be on a polar orbit for five years after the launch and will perform 5-6 passes over India every day. With this satellite, the public will be able to receive signals on 145.90 Mhz frequency with the help of a TV tuner and USB dongle. The mission will launch more than 70 spacecraft from 50 different organizations including 15 microsats and 56 cubesats, making it the largest single rideshare mission to date from a US-based launch vehicle. The mission includes payloads from 18 countries including India, United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, South Africa, and Brazil. Meanwhile, the company is in talks with ISRO and other space agencies to develop more such satellites and provide commercially viable satellites.



A host of Made in India aircraft and helicopters along with foreign ones will be on display (flying and static) at the Aero India 2019 which would be held at Air Force Station, Yelahanka from February 20 to 24.  While a majority of Indian aircraft and helicopters are from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) stable, there will also be static display of the indigenously developed light business jet GENJET GLJ3X1. So far about 175 exhibitors-both Indian and foreign have registered to take part in the air show according to the organisers. Besides, 27,890 sqm space has been booked and 5,286 sqm space is still available for participants to book.

On Display From HAL

According to the organisers, the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH MK IV), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), HAWK-I and the basic trainer aircraft, Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT-40) will be on display during the air show. The LCH, LUH and the HTT-40 is awaiting certification and is yet to be inducted into the Indian Air Force.

Countdown Begins: Flying Response To Aero India Show

Keep your eyes peeled for the GENJET GLJ3X1, developed by the Bangalore based Genser Aerospace & IT Pvt. Ltd. According to them, the aircraft ‘2+7 seat Light Business Jet’; has twin turbofan engines with cruise speed of 840 kmph and a range of 4,100 km.

From The Airbus Stables

Among the international names, Airbus is a big one. The helicopters which will be on static display from the Airbus include the Airbus H135 and Airbus H145. Among the military transport aircraft, the Airbus A400M, C295 and the ANTONOV 132D will also be on display.

What IAF Is Shopping For

During the 2019 edition, the aircraft expected to participate in the show would be from the six companies who have responded to the IAF’s Request for Information (RFI) for 110 multi-role fighter jets. These include Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), SAAB Aviation’s (Gripen), Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin (F-16 Fighting Falcon) and Russia’s Mig-35, who have responded to the RFI.  During the last edition of the air show, a total of 72 aircraft participated. The Yakovlev aerobatic team, the Skycats, the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team and the Sarang helicopter were among the display teams. A few of months ago there were reports that the five day Aero India show which has been held in Bangalore since 1993 could move out to Lucknow.  However, ending months of speculation, the Ministry of Defence in September announced that the government has decided to hold the Aero India 2019 in Bangalore.


ISRO Aerospace Park, Knowledge Centre to come up in Thiruvananthapuram

ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan visited Chief Minister Mr Pinarayi Vijayan at his office here and held discussions on the proposed Dr Kalam Knowledge Centre and Aerospace Park. Both projects, planned in the state capital, are envisaged as a joint venture of the state government and the space agency. Dr Sivan informed the Chief Minister that the procedures regarding the Aerospace Park, coming up at Kinfra Park in nearby Kazhakkottom, would be completed within a month to ink the Memorandum of Understanding. He also requested the government to help in getting official clearances for the proposed Kalam Knowledge Centre, named after former President Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, at Kowdiar here. Dr Sivan, also Secretary, Department of Space, handed over a cheque for Rs 2.7 crore, collected from ISRO centres across the country, to the Chief Minster’s Distress Relief Fund. VSSC director Dr S Somanath, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) director Mr V Narayanan, and the scientific advisor to Chief Minister, Mr M Chandra Dathan, were among those present.


The first worldwide drone standards have been unveiled to keep aircraft safe

The first ever set of global standards for drones has been launched, designed to keep aircraft safe and to make sure operators are held accountable.

What’s happened: The  International Organization for Standardization (IOS) has released a draft set of standards for drone operations for public consultation, open until January 21, 2019. The standards are expected to be adopted worldwide later next year.

What does the document say? There’s little to disagree with here. The standards call for “no-fly zones” to ensure sufficient distance from airports or sensitive locations. The document suggests geo-fencing technology to stop flights in restricted areas. It also says there should be flight logging, training, and maintenance requirements. There are rules to ensure that operators respect privacy and data protection. Crucially, it also says a fail-safe means of human intervention is mandatory for all drone flights, establishing accountability for drone operators.

Why is it needed? Agreeing to a consistent set of industry regulations should encourage more organizations to adopt drone technology, thanks to stronger assurances on safety and security. In the Financial Times today, the head of the UK’s air safety board said that half of air traffic incidents now involve drones. Alastair Muir of NATS, the British air traffic control service, called for more technology to combat the threat. Better standards should help, too.

What’s next: These standards are the first of four sets covering aerial drones, with the next three set to dig deeper into technical specifications, manufacturing quality, and traffic management.