ISRO, DRDO sign MoUs for Gaganyaan mission

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) inked MoUs with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for development of human centric systems for the Gaganyaan project, the Defence Ministry said. Some of the critical technologies to be provided by the DRDO to ISRO include space food, space crew health monitoring and emergency survival kit, radiation measurement and protection, parachutes for safe recovery of crew module, the ministry said in a statement. A delegation of ISRO scientists, led by Director of Human Space Flight Centre (HSFC) Dr S Unnikrishnan Nair, signed a set of MoUs with various DRDO labs here to provide technologies for human centric systems and technologies specific to the Human Space Mission, it said. The MoUs were signed by directors of the Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment (ADRDE), Defence Food Research Laboratory (DFRL), Defence Bio-Engineering & Electro Medical Laboratory (DEBEL), Defence Laboratory (DL) Jodhpur, Centre for Fire, Explosive & Environment Safety (CFEES), Defence Institute of Physiology & Allied Sciences (DIPAS) and Institute of Nuclear Medicine & Allied Sciences (INMAS) in the presence of DRDO Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy and Scientist & Director General (Life Sciences), Dr A K Singh. Speaking on the occasion, Dr G Satheesh Reddy said the technological capabilities existing in DRDO laboratories for defence applications will be customised to meet the requirements of the human space mission of ISRO. Dr Singh said the DRDO is committed to provide all necessary support to ISRO for the human space flight and customisation of the required technologies has already been initiated to meet the stringent timelines. ISRO aims to demonstrate human spaceflight capability before the 75th anniversary of India’s independence in 2022.


DRDO hands over new war-gaming software to Indian Navy

The DRDO handed over to the Navy a new-generation wargaming software, aimed at creating an environment that would enable the Maritime Warfare Centres (MWCs) to train using the latest technological and computing tools, the Defence Ministry said. The software has been developed by the Institute for Systems Studies and Analysis (ISSA) in Delhi, a premier Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) laboratory, in collaboration with the MWC, Visakhapatnam to meet the contemporary operational and tactical level wargaming requirement of the Indian Navy, a statement issued by the ministry said. The wargaming software was handed over by G Satheesh Reddy, Secretary, Department of Defence R&D and Chairman, DRDO, to Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, the vice chief of the Naval staff, at the ISSA. “The key focus has been to create a wargaming environment, which enables the Maritime Warfare Centres (MWCs) to train using the latest technological and computing tools,” the statement said. The software has versatile and user-friendly features, which enable globally playable wargaming scenarios between multiple forces. It also enables exercises to be conducted between geographically-dispersed locations over a wide area network.


JALDOST will soon be commercialised

The airboat developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) which has successfully undergone trials at the Ulsoor Lake is being pitched for commercialisation. The airboat named JALDOST was developed by NAL as an in-house project for weed cutting and scooping out floating waste products from lakes and water bodies. After successfully developing and demonstrating its capabilities, NAL has signed a collaboration agreement with a private engineering firm to take the project beyond the innovation phase and possible commercialisation. According to NAL it signed a collaboration agreement with Hosur-based Shrivari Enegineering Systems Private Limited for customising, demonstration, performance evaluation of the upgraded JALDOST to bring out a simple and user-friendly, marketable product for commercialization. Scientists who were associated with the project had earlier told that each boat will cost about Rs20 lakh and the production will have to be taken up by the industry. They added that a key aspect here is to ensure that the cost of the indigenous airboat is lower than the imported ones. “As a proof that the concept is successful, versions of high-powered airboats would also be made to cater to the end-user needs, if required,” said scientists had said. It is in this context that NAL has tied up with the private firm to bring out simple and user friendly and marketable product for commercialization. During its launch a few months ago NAL had said that airboats use air propulsion and thrust vectoring technology to travel in shallow and flood waters. Due to this operating methodology there is no risk of entanglement with objects under water which are not easily identifiable, NAL had said. Besides the boat also has a hydraulic system based scoop and saw-toothed, sliding weed cutters at the front. During the field trials at the Ulsoor Lake, the airboat with automotive engine and flat bottom hull had successfully demonstrated all functionalities of the system. Apart from being used for clearing weeds, the other applications of the airboat include flood disasters, mass transport in marshy-lands, and tourism, etc.


IAF to get 7 more Akash missile squadrons

The Centre has approved the procurement of seven additional squadrons of Akash missiles for the Indian Air Force at a total cost of Rs 5,500 crore. Among the four companies tasked with providing the primary components across the 500 to 600 surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems on order, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) said that it has been tasked with supplying all electronics, guidance and radar. During an interview with DH, BEL’s chairman and managing director Mr Gowtama M V clarified that BEL was the lead integrator for Akash missile systems for the Air Force, while Bharat Dynamics Limited was the lead integrator for missiles destined for the … “We will deliver the first batch of systems for the missile within 12 to 18 months,” Mr Gowtama said, adding that the Army was also seeking to equip two regiments with the latest variant of the system. The chairman clarified that BEL was also developing a new radio-frequency seeker, which will be installed on board the missile to enhance interception of the target. “This onboard will track the target and direct the missile through a ground link,” he said. According to sources, some of the new missiles destined for the Air Force will carry this new target seeker. BDL will supply the rocketry while private companies such as Larsen & Toubro and Tata Power SED will deliver the system’s tracked and wheeled launchers.According to sources, the seven squadrons in mobile configuration will be deployed along the Indo-Pakistan and Indo-China borders. The 5.8-metre-long Akash missile was fitted with a 55-60 kg high-explosive pre-fragmented warhead. It is said to be capable of engaging multiple aerial targets such as combat aircraft and assorted missile systems up to a range of 25 to 30 km. The new systems are intended to supplement the two Akash squadrons inducted into the Air Force in July 2015. The missiles will replace Soviet-era SA-3B Goa, SA-8 Gecko, and SA-18 Grouse SAMs. The contract order had been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security late August, but was announced on September 5 2019.


Foundation Stone of Space Situational Awareness Control Centre by Chairman, SIRE

Chairman, ISRO laid foundation stone for Space Situational Awareness Control Centre at Peenya, Bengaluru on 2nd August 2019, which is an important milestone in the progress of ISRO. Space Situational Awareness & Management (SSAM) has become an internationally significant area due to the ever growing manmade space debris population and the increased collision threat with operational spacecraft. Chairman, ISRO laid foundation stone for Space Situational Awareness Control Centre at Peenya, Bengaluru on 2nd August 2019, which is an important milestone in the progress of ISRO. ISRO has taken special attention to this aspect. ISRO has set up a Directorate of Space Situational Awareness and Management aiming at protecting high valued space assets from space debris close approaches and collisions. To carryout systematically all activities related to SSAM, a control centre is being established at Bengaluru. The Control Centre would facilitate the intensified activities foreseen for SSAM, in view of increasing debris population and operational space assets. The control centre would host a range of activities pertaining to protection of Indian Space assets from inactive satellites, pieces of orbiting objects, near earth asteroids and adverse space weather conditions. It would assimilate the tracking data of inactive satellites from indigenous observation facilities and generates useful information from bare observations through analysis. For sustainable use of space, the control centre would enable research activities pertaining to active debris removal, space debris modelling and mitigation.


Chandrayaan-2 Successfully enters Lunar Transfer Trajectory

The final orbit raising manoeuvre of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft was successfully carried out today (August 14, 2019) at 02:21 am IST. During this manoeuvre, the spacecraft’s liquid engine was fired for about 1203 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 entered the Lunar Transfer Trajectory. Earlier, the spacecraft’s orbit was progressively increased five times during July 23 to August 06, 2019. The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Byalalu, near Bengaluru. Since its launch on July 22, 2019 by GSLV MkIII-M1 vehicle, all systems onboard Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft are performing normal.  Chandrayaan-2 will approach Moon on August 20, 2019 and the spacecraft’s liquid engine will be fired again to insert the spacecraft into a lunar orbit.  Following this, there will be further four orbit manoeuvres to make the spacecraft enter into its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Tentative plan for future operation after Trans Lunar Injection are as follows,

  Date Time Orbit around moon
LOI/LBN#1 August 20, 2019 8:30-9:30 118  X  18078
LBN#2 August 21, 2019 12:30 – 13:30 121 X 4303
LBN#3 August 28, 2019 05:30 – 06:30 178 X 1411
LBN#4 August 30, 2019 18:00 – 19:00 126 X 164
LBN#5 September 01, 2019 18:00 – 19:00 114 X 128

Subsequently, Vikram lander will separate from the orbiter on September 02, 2019.  Two orbit manoeuvres will be performed on the lander before the initiation of powered descent to make a soft landing on the lunar surface on September 07, 2019.


Press Meet – Briefing by Dr. K Sivan, Chairman, SIRE

A Press Meet was organised today (August 20, 2019) at ISRO Headquarters, Bengaluru on the occasion of Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) of Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. Dr K Sivan, Chairman, ISRO addressed and interacted with several regional, national and international media persons during the meet. The live telecast of this meet was made available on ISRO website and Youtube Channel. In his briefing, Dr. Sivan announced that “The LOI manoeuvre was performed successfully today morning using the onboard propulsion system for a firing duration of about 29 minutes. This manoeuvre precisely injected Chandrayaan-2 into an orbit around the Moon.” He emphasised the unique requirement of 90 degree orbital inclination of Chandrayaan-2 and said that it was achieved by the precise execution of both the Trans Lunar Injection (performed on August 14, 2019) and today’s LOI manoeuvre. “The satellite is currently located in a lunar orbit with a distance of about 114 km at perilune (nearest point to the Moon) and 18,072 km at apolune (farthest point to the Moon)”, he added. Further, Dr Sivan added that till September 01, 2019, a series of four orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface. Subsequently, on September 02, 2019 the Vikram lander will separate from the Orbiter.  Following this, orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Vikram to place it in a 100 km X 30 km orbit around the Moon.  Following this, Vikram will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft land in the South polar region of the Moon between two craters, Manzinus C and Simpelius N on September 7, 2019. A few hours later, the Rover Pragyaan will roll down from Vikram and will perform in situ exploration of the surrounding lunar surface. The briefing by Chairman, ISRO was followed by a long interactive session with the media during which questions were asked about the scientific objectives of the Chandrayaan-2 mission, challenges and complexities involved during Vikram separation from Orbiter and its soft landing on the Moon, impact of lunar dust on landing and the release of images captured by Chandrayaan-2, mission life of Pragyaan. Chairman, ISRO answered these questions in detail.


M.S. Velpari Takes Over as Director (Operations) at HAL

Mr M.S Velpari, has taken the charge as Director (Operations)-HAL from Mr Sunil Kumar who superannuated on July 31, 2019.  Earlier, he was holding the post of Chief of Project (LCA Tejas) at LCA-Tejas Division. Mr Velpari holds a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from College of Engineering, Guindy, Chennai and did his Masters from IIT Madras in Aircraft Production Engineering. He joined HAL in 1984 as Management Trainee (20th batch).  He gained experience in the areas of manufacturing, assembly, design, product support, customer support, indigenisation and other management functions while serving at LCA-Tejas, Aircraft, Foundry & Forge Divisions in Bengaluru and Aircraft Division at Nashik.. Mr Velpari was instrumental in sustained growth of LCA production from initial two in FY 2015-16 to eight in FY 2018-19. He took path breaking steps with the strategic outsourcing of structural assemblies of LCA-Tejas, which is poised to grow further. He played a key role in implementing the task of indigenisation of 1850 types of castings, forgings, rolled rings and rubber products at F&F Division.


Long-awaited indigenous light combat aircraft Tejas Mk II targeted by 2022

The Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) will unveil the Tejas Mark II with a heavier stand-off weapon capacity in the 75th year of India’s independence, in 2022, and the long-awaited indigenous fighter, which will be manufactured by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), will go into production by 2025-2026, two senior defence officials said on condition of anonymity. DRDO’s ADA finalised the design of the 17.5 ton Tejas Mark II (Mk-II) in December 2018, and is expected to lock in the design of the fifth generation twin-engine stealth fighter for Indian Air Force (IAF) by the end of the year. ADA officials said the Mk II will have the same weight as the Mirage, Jaguar and Grippen but with a heavier GE 414 engine. The qualitative requirements were frozen in late 2018, in full consultation and with the approval of the IAF, two years after the project was redesigned. The 4.5 generation fighter will go into production after the Tejas LCA (light combat aircraft) order of 123 aircraft to replace the air force’s ageing MiG21s is completed. Sanctioned by the government in 2009, the Mk II will be equipped with state-of-the-art AESA radar with the indigenously developed air-to-air missile Astra, which has a range of 70km. The beyond visual range missile is currently being tested on the IAF’s Su-30 MKI fighters. ADA and IAF are also moving rapidly on the development of the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA). The 25-ton fighter will have all weapons in its belly and be powered by two engines capable of super-cruise speeds. AMCA will have complex S-shaped serpentine intakes. These hide the spinning turbine blades in the engine and are a key stealth feature. The super cruise feature allows the aircraft to accelerate without the use of after burners. Both features ensure minimum radar signatures. According to top DRDO officials who asked not to be named, the design of AMCA, which was approved as an initial concept in 2014, has been given a go-ahead by IAF late last year. In consultation with the air force, the design of the twin engine fighter will be frozen by the end of the year. This, too, will be made by HAL. The Tejas will be lightest member of the family; the LCA weighs just around 11 tonnes. 3 Designed as a fifth-generation stealth fighter using composite material, the AMCA will be unveiled by ADA in 2024. With a weight equivalent to the F-18 fighter, AMCA will be powered with a new engine, the search for which has already started.

Source: Hindustan Times

Manned mission:12 Indian astronauts to train in Russia

ISRO is planning to send 12 Indian astronauts to Russia, where they will undergo 15 months of intensive training, after which four will be selected for the country’s first manned mission into space.

The training contract between ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) and Glavkosmos, a subsidiary of the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos, was signed on June 27, said ISRO chairperson Dr K Sivan. The planned space foray, codenamed “Gaganyaan” (sky vehicle) is planned for December 2021, and could possibly include a woman astronaut. “This is the only thing that has been agreed upon with the Russians. All other things, such as crew seats and astronaut suits are still in the negotiation phase,” Dr Sivan said. He was speaking as a chief guest at the Jain University’s convocation ceremony in Bengaluru on August 26. The ISRO chairman added that the training will be conducted at the Yuri Gagarin Space Centre in Star City during which candidates will be put through the paces. During his address to students, he briefly alluded to the ongoing Chandrayaan-2 mission, saying that the agency was on tenterhooks on a daily basis because of the challenges involved. “Only 37% of soft landings have ever been successful on the moon,” he said and echoed a phrase familiar to legions of Star Trek fans: “We are going where no one has gone before.” The crux of the chairman’s speech, however, was about the challenges of becoming successful professionally, which appeared to strike a chord with the assembled students especially after Dr Sivan clarified his own challenges in academia. “At every stage in life, I was always denied my first choice academically. After high school, I wanted to study engineering, but ended up studying BSc mathematics. Later, when I finally managed to get into an engineering university, I wanted to join the aeronautical group, but ended up in another project. I learned a valuable lesson, however: life is often not about making the best choices, it is about making the best of the opportunities given to you,” he said, to thunderous applause from students. However, he added that it was also important for students to forge their own path in life, citing the high failure rate among startups in Bengaluru as being emblematic of many people trying to do the same thing, and using the same methods. “We can take inspiration from leaders, but don’t try to emulate them. You may get inspired by A P J Abdal Kalam, but don’t try to emulate Kalam by adopting his hairstyle. You won’t go anywhere,” he said to peals of laughter from the crowd.