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India Gets its Own GPS; Successfully Launches IRNSS 1-G
Apr 29, 2016

The IRNSS-1G, on board PSLV-C33, was successfully launched from first launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota at 12.50 p.m. on April 28. The 51.5 hour countdown to the launch of PSLV-C33/IRNSS-1G mission began at 9:20 a.m. on April 26. Just over 20 minutes into the flight, the rocket would put the 1,425-kg IRNSS-1G satellite into orbit at an altitude of 497.8 km.

  • The satellite with a design life span of 12 years has two payloads for navigation and ranging.

  • Apart from the civilian usage, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System comprising seven satellites will be used for defence purposes as well.

Before this, India has launched six regional navigational satellites (IRNSS-1A, 1B, 1C, ID, 1E and 1F) as part of a constellation of seven satellites to provide accurate position information service to users across the country and the region, extending up to an area of 1,500 km.

  • IRNSS will be to the subcontinent what the GPS is to its users worldwide, but with far greater precision and in Indian control, according to the Indian Space Research Organisation.

  • It is expected to provide position accuracy of better than 20 m over Indian region and also an area extending up to 1,500 sq. km around India.

  • A regional navigation satellite system with just seven spacecraft and in civil domain is unique to India. The three global versions of other countries offer worldwide commercial coverage and are operated by their respective militaries.

The well-known GPS is owned by the U.S. Air Force; Russia has GLONASS and China is expanding its regional BeiDou into a global system, also operated by its military. Europe’s GALILEO is a civil global system. They each have between 28 and 35 satellites.

  • IRNSS will drive both everyday uses as a 24/7 standard service for air, sea, ship transport among others and will also be used for military and missile-related applications as an encrypted and restricted service.

  • Over the next three to six months, all the IRNSS satellites in the fleet would be stabilised as a constellation, their signals and performance verified and later put to use.

  • The fleet has two spare satellites kept ready on ground to be flown in an emergency.

  • A full-fledged ground control centre in Bengaluru and tracking stations across the country have been put in place.

The constellation has been in the making since July 2013 when the first spacecraft, IRNSS-1A, was launched. With the launch of IRNSS-1G, India now joins the elite group of countries which have their own navigation system technology to cater to the mammoth navigational needs.

The total cost of the IRNSS mission 1,420 crore.

Mission Basics

The IR NSS 1-G is the seventh member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), completing a constellation of satellites in geosynchronous and geostationary orbits that will give Indian civilian and military users, and their partners, access to a dedicated satellite navigation system that will not be dependent on foreign governments or suppliers.

  • The Satellite: IRNSS-1G, seventh of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Like its six predecessors, had a lift-off mass of 1,425 kg. All 7 satellites are configured identically.

  • The Vehicle: Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, in its 35th (and 34th consecutively successful) flight. All IRNSS launches used the most powerful ‘XL’ version of PSLV, equipped with 6 strap-ons, each with 12 tonnes of propellant.

  • The Orbits: 3 of the 7 satellites will be located in suitable orbital slots in geostationary orbit; remaining four will be in geosynchronous orbits with the required inclination and equatorial crossings in two different planes. IRNSS-1G was placed in a Sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO) about 20 minutes after lift-off.

  • The Service: IRNSS will provide Standard Positioning Service (SPS) to all users, and an encrypted Restricted Service (RS) to authorised users. IRNSS will provide a position accuracy better than 20 metres in the primary service area.

  • The Applications: Terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation; disaster management; vehicle tracking and fleet management; integration with mobile phones; precise timing; mapping and geodetic data capture; terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers; visual and voice navigation for drivers.


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