GSLV MkIII-M1 Successfully Launches Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft

India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV MkIII-M1, successfully launched the 3840 kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an earth orbit today (July 22, 2019). The spacecraft is now revolving round the earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.7 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 45,475 km.  Today’s flight marks the first operational flight of the GSLV Mk III. After a smooth countdown lasting 20 hours, GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle majestically lifted off from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota at the scheduled launch time of 1443Hrs (2:43 pm) Indian Standard Time (IST) with the ignition of its two S200 solid strap-on motors.  All the subsequent flight events occurred as scheduled. About 16 minutes 14 seconds after lift-off, the vehicle injected Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into an elliptical earth orbit. Immediately after spacecraft separation from the vehicle, the solar array of the spacecraft automatically got deployed and ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC), Bengaluru successfully took control of the spacecraft.  ISRO Chairman Dr K Sivan congratulated the launch vehicle and satellite teams involved in this challenging mission. “Today is a historical day for Space Science and Technology in India. I am extremely happy to announce that GSLV MkIII-M1 successfully injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit of 6000 Km more than the intended orbit and is better.” “Today is the beginning of the historical journey of India towards Moon and to land at a place near south pole to carry out scientific experiments to explore the unexplored. On July 15, 2019 ISRO intelligently observed a technical snag, Team ISRO worked out, fixed and corrected the snag within 24 hours. For the next one and a half day, the required tests were conducted to ensure that corrections made were proper and in right direction. Today ISRO bounced back with flying colours.” Dr. Sivan said. In the coming days, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be carried out using Chandrayaan-2’s onboard propulsion system.  This will raise the spacecraft orbit in steps and then place it in the Lunar Transfer Trajectory to enable the spacecraft to travel to the vicinity of the Moon.

GSLV Mk III is a three-stage launch vehicle developed by ISRO. The vehicle has two solid strap-ons, a core liquid booster and a cryogenic upper stage. The vehicle is designed to carry 4 ton class of satellites into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) or about 10 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second mission to the moon. It comprises a fully indigenous Orbiter, Lander (Vikram) and Rover (Pragyan). The Rover Pragyan is housed inside Vikram lander. The mission objective of Chandrayaan-2 is to develop and demonstrate the key technologies for end-to-end lunar mission capability, including soft-landing and roving on the lunar surface. On the science front, this mission aims to further expand our knowledge about the Moon through a detailed study of its topography, mineralogy, surface chemical composition, thermo-physical characteristics and atmosphere leading to a better understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. After leaving earth orbit and on entering Moon’s sphere of influence, the on-board propulsion system of Chandrayaan-2 will be fired to slow down the spacecraft. This will enable it to be captured into a preliminary orbit around the Moon. Later, through a set of manoeuvres, the orbit of Chandrayaan-2 around the moon will be circularised at 100 km height from the lunar surface. Subsequently, the lander will separate from the Orbiter and enters into a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon.  Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft land in the South Polar Region of the Moon on September 7, 2019. Following this, the Rover will roll out from the lander and carries out experiments on the lunar surface for a period of 1 lunar day, which is equal to 14 Earth days. The mission life of the lander is also 1 lunar day.The Orbiter will continue its mission for a duration of one year. The orbiter had a lift-off weight of about 2,369 kg, while the lander and rover weighed 1,477 kg and 26 kg respectively.  The rover can travel up to 500 m (half a kilometre) and relies on electric power generated by its solar panel for functioning. Chandrayaan-2 has several science payloads to facilitate a more detailed understanding of the origin and evolution of the Moon. The Orbiter carries eight payloads, the lander carries three, and the rover carries two.  Besides, a passive experiment is included on the lander.The Orbiter payloads will conduct remote-sensing observations from a 100 km orbit while the Lander and Rover payloads will perform in-situ measurements near the landing site. The ground facilities constitute the third vital element of Chandrayaan-2mission.  They perform the important task of receiving the health information as well as the scientific data from the spacecraft. They also transmit the radio commands to the spacecraft. The Ground Segment of Chandrayaan-2 consists of Indian Deep Space Network, Spacecraft Control Centre and Indian Space Science Data Centre. Today’s successful launch of Chandrayaan-2 is a significant milestone in this challenging mission. A total number of 7500 visitors witnessed the launch live from the Viewer’s Gallery at Sriharikota.


First Meeting of Gaganyaan National Advisory Council

Today, June 8, 2019, the first meeting of Gaganyaan National Advisory Council was held at ISRO Headquarters, Bengaluru chaired by Dr. K Sivan, Secretary, Department of Space. The meeting was attended by Dr K Kasturirangan, Honorary Distinguished Advisor, ISRO, Prof K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India,Dr B N Suresh, Honorary Distinguished Professor, ISRO, Prof  Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Dr G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary Defence R&D, Chairman, DRDO, Dr Shekhar C Mande, Secretary DSIR, Director General, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Prof Anurag Kumar, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Shri R Madhavan, Chairman and Managing Director, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Wing Cdr. (Rtd) Rakesh Sharma, Former Indian Astronaut, Air Vice Marshal R G K Kapoor, Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Space), Rear Admiral D S Gujarl, Asst Chief of Naval Staff, Indian Navy, Inspector General KR Suresh TM, Deputy Director General (Operations and Coastal Security) Indian Coast Guard. During the meeting, Dr Unnikrishnan Nair, Director, Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC), ISRO, made a presentation on the overall project status of Gaganyaan, covering technical details as well as collaboration with various national stake holders. The council deliberated in detail on various aspects of Gaganyaan and appreciated the efforts made in this regard in the fast track mode and Institutional mechanisms put in place by ISRO.  It stressed the need for setting priorities at various National Institutions including Industries to accomplish Gaganyaan.  Many essential aspects of Gaganyaan, especially the life support systems and crew selection and training, were discussed in detail.  In the end, the council emphasised the urgent need for further accelerating the efforts to realise Gaganyaan in a very demanding time frame of December 2021 amidst formidable challenges.


HAL Spearheads Efforts to Boost Private Participation in ALH Civil Manufacturing

HAL organized a workshop of Indian private players to boost manufacturing of upgraded ALH Dhruv (Civil version) under ToT. The workshop was chaired by Dr Ajay Kumar, Secretary, Defence Production in the presence of Mr. R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL here today. HAL is the Design Authority and Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) of ALH-Dhruv. The upgraded Dhruv (ALH) Civil helicopter, which is equipped with the latest avionics and glass cockpit, is under production and certification from DGCA.  Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ajay Kumar allayed the concerns over the marketing of ALH Civil Helicopter. He said India offers a huge opportunity and private sector should grab this by collaborating and improvising with positive spirit keeping mind interests of all stake holders. He also urged HAL to consider some of the suggestions proposed by the industry partners. “In fact, I complement HAL for taking this historic step”, he added. “Dhruv has a huge potential in domestic and global civil market and with HAL as the OEM and Licensor, the deal will benefit the Indian partners immensely and help develop the aerospace eco-system in India. As of now, India needs at least 600 helicopters in civil sector,” said Mr. Madhavan. Earlier in the day, participants gave their feedback and suggestions on HAL’s initiative. A Request for Quotation (RFQ) was issued in April 2019. Under this deal, the selected Indian Partner would also be required to provide support to the customers throughout the life of the product (20 years) thereby ensuring long term business relationship. Prospective bidders, various supply chain partners, industry chambers of commerce like ASSOCHAM, FICCI, CII, Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), Karnataka State Development Council and Karnataka UdyogMitra were invited to the workshop.
About ALH Dhruv -The Dhruv, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), indigenously designed & developed by HAL, is a multi-role, multi-mission, new generation helicopter in the 5.5 ton weight class. It is being operated by defence and civil customers and has already completed more than 2.4 lakhs flying hours.  ALH Mk I version is being operated for civil use for law enforcement, anti-naxalite, VIP movement and ground survey operations by BSF, Govt. of Jharkhand, Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd, GSI, etc.


IndSpaceEx: Tri-Services To Hold First Of Its Kind Two-Day Simulated Space Warfare Exercise From Tomorrow

After the Anti-Satellite (A-SAT) test in March 2019, India will now hold a first-of-its-kind two-day space warfare exercise beginning tomorrow, The New Indian Express has reported. The simulated exercise, named ‘IndSpaceEx’ will be conducted at the Integrated Defence Headquarters (IDH) in New Delhi with experts from the three services – Army, Air Force and Navy along with DRDO and academia among others coming together for it. The exercise has been planned with an eye on China, which as per experts in the field, is developing an entire array of anti-satellite weapons including non-kinetic ones like lasers and electro-magnetic pulse weapons. “There is the need to explore effective tactical, operational and strategic exploitation of the final frontier of warfare. We cannot keep twiddling our thumbs while China zooms ahead. We cannot match China but must have capabilities to protect our space assets,” an official said. With the defence arena slowly widening to include cyber and space areas, the significance of military assets in space has increased over the last decades. Recognising this, the Cabinet Committee for Security, had earlier cleared the formation of Defence Space Research to aid the Defence Space Agency under the tri-services. The Defence Space Agency, which will command the A-SAT capabilities among others, has been formed to ensure defence of Indian assets in space along with offensive capabilities. The agency is to be setup in Benguluru under the tri-services command.

 Source: Times of India

ISRO ties up with Russian agency to select, train Indian astronauts

Almost two months after Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) signed an agreement to select and train the crew of India’s maiden manned space mission, Gaganyaan-1, the country’s premier space agency has signed a contract with Russia’s Glavkosmos for selection support, medical examination and space training of Indian astronauts. The contract was signed on June 27 2019 by Director of Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) of ISRO, Dr  S Unnikrishnan Nair and First Deputy Director General of Glavkosmos (part of Roscosmos State Corporation of Russia) Natalia Lokteva.  As per the contract, Glavkosmos will render services to HSFC in Bengaluru, on consulting support of selection of candidates for Indian astronauts, providing medical examination of the candidates for access to space flight related training programme, and providing space flight related training for Indian astronauts selected on the basis of medical examinations. “Work will be provided with support of the Federal State Budget Organization U A Gagarin Research & Test Cosmonaut Training Center and Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences,” said a statement posted on Glavkosmos’ website. It is not yet known what role the IAF would play in the selection and training of Indian astronauts, termed ‘vyomanauts’, although it signed an agreement with ISRO on May 28, 2019. The agreement with IAF was signed by Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Space Operations) Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor and Gaganyaan project director R Hutton, with ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan being witness to it. As per ISRO’s agreement with IAF, the crew selection and training was to be conducted at ISRO’s Human Space Flight Centre, which was opened on January 31 2019 next to the ISRO headquarters in Bengaluru, to develop life support systems, crew training and planning for future manned space missions under the Gaganyaan project.  PM Narendra Modi had announced on August 15, 2018, that ISRO would send three astronauts, including a woman, by December 2022. The Rs 9,023-crore Gaganyaan mission entails a three-member crew being sent in a space capsule on board a heavy-lift rocket to be released in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of 350-400km for about a week.  ISRO has planned to send two unmanned missions before the main mission is undertaken sometime in 2021-2022, a senior ISRO scientist said.


ISRO looks for a name to stamp on lunar surface after Chandrayaan-2 mission lands on Moon

India’s Moon mission Chandrayaan-2 was quite a feat. However, it was a disappointment when India’s Moon mission to the unexplored south polar region of Earth’s natural satellite was called off due to a technical snag. Chandrayaan-2 was supposed to launch early morning on July 15 2019, but a technical glitch forced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to call off the launch. Later, it was launched on July 22 2019. Now that the six-wheeled Pragyaan rover and Vikram lander are finally on their way to the Moon, Indian Space Research Organisation is looking for a name to stamp on the Moon after India’s lunar mission lands on the Moon successfully in September, 2019. “We are looking to name the location Vikram lands at. We are selecting a name, we still have time for that,” ISRO chairman Dr K Sivan told “There is shortlist of names. We are in the process, we will pick a name,” The TOI report also mentioned that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to give the name that will be etched on the landing site. The Chandrayaan-2 mission will help India and world broaden the horizon of human knowledge. Chandrayaan-2 mission will explore the dark side of the Moon after it lands on the cosmic body’s south polar region. Chandrayaan-2 will help expand India’s footprint in space, inspire a future generation of scientists, engineers, and explorers and surpass international aspirations. Chandrayaan-2 is an advanced version of the previous Chandrayaan-1 mission, which was launched about 10 years ago.


Chandrayaan-2 to enter moon’s orbit by Aug 20, a week earlier than planned

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has said that the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft is scheduled to reach the moon’s orbit by August 20, 2019. The GSLV MKIII M1 rocket successfully placed the Chandrayaan–2 spacecraft into a highly elliptical orbit of 170 x 45475 km on July 22, 2019. The first earth-bound orbit raising manoeuvre for the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was performed successfully today (July 24, 2019) at 1452 hr as planned, using the on-board propulsion system for a firing duration of 57 seconds. The new orbit will be 230 X 45163 km. The second orbit raising manoeuvre is scheduled on July 26, 2019, at 0109 hr, ISRO said in an update on the Chandrayaan-2 mission. Major activities that lie ahead include Earth-bound manoeuvres, Trans-Lunar Insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram separation and Vikram Touch Down. Earth-bound manoeuvres are planned to be executed from today culminating into Trans-Lunar Insertion scheduled on August 14, 2019, which will send the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to moon, said ISRO. The lander Vikram will land on the moon on September 7. Revised schedule As per the original schedule, GSLV-Mk III rocket carrying Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was supposed to lift-off on July 15 2019 . However, due to a serious technical glitch, the flight was postponed to July 22 2019 . This resulted changes in the mission schedule. As per the original flight schedule, the Chandrayaan-2’s earth-bound phase was 17 days, but is now 23 days as per the revised schedule. However, the lunar bound phase, which was for 28 days originally, has been reduced to 13 days. According to the July 15 2019 schedule, Vikram was planned to land on the moon 54 days after the rocket’s lift-off, but will now it will take place in 48 days.


And the CSIR award goes to… its chief

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has given away one of its prestigious awards to its former director general a month after his retirement, triggering murmurs of protests within the CSIR family. Scientists described it as a probable case of ‘conflict of interest’ that needs to be probed.

In 2018, the council presented its ‘CSIR Technology Award’ in the category of life sciences to the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH), Chandigarh, for developing a state-of-the-art clot-buster drug known as clot specific streptokinase. Mr Girish Sahni, a scientist who developed the indigenous clot-buster during his long research career at IMTECH, was the director general of CSIR when his pet project was selected for the award. “The streptokinase technology was developed years ago. The CSIR had even signed a commercial agreement with a pharmaceutical company in 2011. Then why was it awarded at a time when Mr Sahni was at the helm of affairs to throw around his influence? The issue of conflict of interest can’t be ruled out and the CSIR headquarters must come out clean,” a senior CSIR scientist, who didn’t wish to be identified, told DH. Mr Sahni retired as a CSIR director general on August 23, 2018. The CSIR awards are presented every year on its foundation day on September 26. But the process of selecting the award by a 14-member jury was carried out when Sahni was in charge of India’s oldest research council. A CSIR spokesperson said, “In 2018, the (selection) committee, after deliberations, recommended the nomination ‘Clot Busters for Thrombolytic Therapy’ submitted by a group of scientists of IMTECH for award. By a coincidence, Sahni was one of the contributing scientists of IMTECH for the nomination.” “The nominations for CSIR technology awards are scrutinised in detail, deliberated and selected by respective award selection committee comprising high level external members drawn from various institutions in India. This committee is an independent one; non-members (including director general, CSIR) don’t participate in the meeting,” the spokesperson said. Mr Sahni responded to DH, countering the charges. “I’m not aware of any personal knowledge or intervention in this matter. To the best of my knowledge, no influence was exercised. For me, it’s very difficult to comment more than this. I can say with utmost honesty that I have a clear conscience in this matter. A large group of scientists and students worked on this project for several years and created a strong societal impact,” he said. Incidentally, the charges against the former CSIR chief come at a time when India’s principal scientific advisor has come out with a draft national policy on academic ethics. In one of the chapters dealing with science administration, it says, “Conflicts of interest have to be avoided. When potential conflicts are liable to occur, the official must make this known to the concerned colleagues.”


PMKVY to launch skills programmes on aerospace, agriculture

The Skill Development Ministry will launch training programmes on two new sectors – aerospace engineering and smart agriculture – on July 15, to coincide with the World Youth Skills Day. With the modernisation of the air force and the growth in the aviation sector, there is an increased need for trained workers in the sector. A Government owned ITI in Nagpur will look at this programme that will also be implemented by institutes in Chennai and Coimbatore, which are two major manufacturing centres. Likewise, there is a growing demand for trained workers in smart agriculture, where the emphasis will be on using data on soil testing, controlled irrigation, controlled delivery of inputs and agriculture services that use information technology. Mahendra Nath Pandey, Union Minister for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, told journalists here that the Ministry will launch a programme under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) for dak sevaks in the India Post Payments Bank to help them carry out various functions, such as a banking business correspondent. Two other programmes that launched on July 15 2019 are a BCom and a BBA on applied logistics, where one half of the three-year courses will be classroom based and the other half, hands-on curriculum-based training in logistics companies. The fastest growing demand for training under the PMKVY is from the beauty and wellness sector and for yoga therapists, where yoga is taught not only for fitness but also for curative purposes. Launched in July 2015, the PMKVY was revamped and a Version 2.0 introduced in July 2016 with an outlay of about Rs 12,000 crore. The PMKVY 2.0 ends in 2020 and the Ministry is now appraising the progress. The flagship skill development programme will be restructured based on the progress made in the last four years. One proposal is to give a greater role for the States in the skills training programme. Nearly 90 per cent of the need for skills upgradation is in the unorganised sector and the Skills Development Ministry feels that the States may be better placed to implement and monitor the programme than the Centre. For instance, the State governments could work with, say, an association of local automobile workshop owners and train their workers in various skills relating to handling automobile repairs.


First prototype of Brahmos-NG to be ready by 2024

The first prototype of the Brahmos-NG, a lighter sleeker variant of the Indo-Russian cruise missile, will be fielded in 2024. A top official of the Brahmos Aerospace, the Indo-Russian joint venture company which manufactures the missile, told India Today TV that the missile was currently under development between NPO Mashinostroyeniya and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The NG or next generation will mark a quantum jump in the offensive abilities of the Indian armed forces. The five-metre-long, 50-centimetre-thick, and 1.5 ton Brahmos-NG is half the dimensions of the Brahmos missiles currently in service today with the Indian Air Force (IAF), Army, and the Navy. The Brahmos-NG’s significant weight and size reductions mean that it can be carried by many more platforms including the conventional submarines and the fighter aircraft. It will, however, have the same speed, range and lethality of the first generation Brahmos which flies at three times the speed of sound. The Su-30MKI which carries one Brahmos presently, carries one Brahmos-NG, will be able to carry five Brahmos-NGs. We can put it on the MiG-29 and on the indigenous LCA Tejas, Praveen Pathak, Chief General Manager (Marketing Promotions and Export) Brahmos Aerospace International Maritime at the Defence Show (IMDS), said. The Indo-Russian Brahmos joint venture was formed in 1998 and is the oldest military joint venture between India and Russia.