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IRNSS-1H launch unsuccessful
Sep 01, 2017

[GS Paper III: (Indigenisation of technology and developing new technology)]

Why in News?

India's first private sector built satellite IRNSS-1H failed after its launch from Sriharikota spaceport in Andhra Pradesh on August 31. This happened due to a technical glitch just prior to its scheduled orbiting in space. 

  • The PSLV-C39 managed to deliver the IRNSS-1H satellite to its designated orbit in space but with the heat shield still stuck on the satellite. 
  • Consequently the quality of signals being received was sub-optimal and ISRO declared the mission unsuccessful shortly after the final stage of the launch.
  • In a normal PSLV launch, the heat shield on the rocket is supposed to peel off and fall away when a rocket leaves earth’s atmosphere and reaches an altitude of around 120 km. In the case of the PSLV-C39 launch, this did not happen and the heat shield stayed attached till the final rocket stage.

What was IRNSS-1H supposed to do?

  • The new satellite was meant to augment the existing 7 satellites of the Indian navigation satellite constellation, called NavIC. ISRO had earlier informed that three Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (RAFS) clocks on IRNSS-1A, the first satellite launched on July 1, 2013, had developed problems, rendering the satellite ineffective for navigation services.
  • IRNSS-1H would have supplemented the role of INRSS-1A which has been relaying fuzzy data since the atomic clock failure.
  • It was the eighth in a series of IRNSS (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite Systems) satellites launched by ISRO since July 2013 to create a constellation to provide satellite-based navigation services over the Indian subcontinent on the lines of the global positioning system (GPS) of the United States. 

Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standard (RAFS) clocks

  • Each satellite in the IRNSS series has three atomic clocks, one primary and two back-ups. All clocks that are currently onboard these satellites are rubidium-based atomic clocks.
  • These atomic clocks have a high degree of accuracy unlike the electronic clocks used commonly and atomic clocks do not lose or gain even a single second over millions of years.

Applications of NavIC

  • IRNSS is intended to provide two services — Standard Positioning Service for general users and a Restricted Service, which is an encrypted service only for authorised users like the defence forces.
  • Shipping: Merchant ships can use data from NavIC for navigation and also for disaster management on the high seas.
  • Road Transport: It can be used for navigation on roads as well as helping operators track their consignments and for traffic management by government agencies.
  • Railways: NavIC can also be used to track train movements and for estimating time of arrival and departure.
  • Resource Management: These satellites can help in geo-tagging and geo-fencing of objects that allow entrepreneurs and governments to track if there is movement of goods beyond designated boundaries.
  • Location Based Services: Navigational satellites are essential to operations like finding nearby restaurants, shops, hospitals and petrol pumps.
  • Time Synchronised Services: NavIc can also be used in telecom operations, power grid operations, disaster management and atmospheric studies.


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