New Delhi ( Indian Express ) : The Indian Space Research Organisation Monday successfully launched the first of the five second-generation satellites for the Navigation by Indian Constellation (NavIC), with Isro chairperson S Somanath saying they will make the constellation fully operational.
The 2,232 kg satellite, launched using a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle or GSLV rocket, will add to India’s regional navigation system and provide accurate and real-time navigation.
The satellite took off from the second launch pad at 10.42 am aboard GSLV-F12 and was inserted just over 18 minutes later into a geosynchronous transfer orbit of 173 km *40,700 km that will be circularised over the next couple of days to bring the satellite to its final position.
The constellation has been plagued by failing atomic clocks and satellites nearing the end of their mission life. “We are going to make this NavIC system fully functional and operational for the benefit of the nation. There is a huge amount of opportunity waiting for us,” Somanath said after the launch.
“This is a very good orbit and will give a better life to the satellite,” said Mission Director N P Giri after the launch.
The satellite has a mission life of over 12 years, which in itself is longer than the 10-year life of the first-generation satellites in the constellation.
This is the first launch using the vehicle since its failure in August 2021 after changes were made based on recommendations by a failure analysis committee. The 2021 launch had failed when a malfunctioning valve led to insufficient pressure in the liquid hydrogen tank in the cryogenic upper stage, resulting in the stage not getting ignited.
Somanath thanked the government for showing faith in the agency and authorising the use of the vehicle after the previous failure. He said, “I am very happy that the corrections and modifications in the cryogenic stage that we have done, as well as the lessons out of it, (have made) our cryogenic stage more reliable and we are seeing success in our LVM3 mission as well.”
The vehicle also used the new 4m Ogive payload fairing— the shield within which the satellites are housed to protect them from atmospheric friction and heat—capable of carrying bigger payloads.
Monday’s launch also beat Isro’s spotty record during the three pandemic years. There were only two Isro launches each in 2020, 2021, and 2022 while this is the third launch for 2023. The two launches this year were also significant as the first one resulted in the induction of the new Small Satellite Launch Vehicle into the existing Isro fleet and the second established the heaviest rocket LVM Mk3 as a dependable commercial launcher.
Isro has had an action-packed year with the launch of the first solar mission, the third lunar mission, and the test vehicle under the Gaganyaan mission slated for later this year. The Isro chairman also announced that the same vehicle will be used for the weather and meteorological satellite INSAT-3DS and NASA-ISRO SAR (NISAR) satellite after this.