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IRNSS: Part of World Wide Radio Navigation System

  • 25 Nov 2020
  • 4 min read

Why in News

The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has recognised the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) as a component of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS) during its 102nd session held virtually.

  • The IMO is the United Nations specialised agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships.

Key Points

  • India has become the fourth country in the world to have its independent regional navigation satellite system recognised by the IMO as a part of the World Wide Radio Navigation System (WWRNS).
  • The other three countries that have its navigation systems recognised by the IMO are the USA, Russia and China.
  • Significance:
    • The IMO has accepted IRNSS as an alternative navigation module in Indian waters. It was in use only on a pilot basis earlier but now all merchant vessels are authorised to use it, even small fishing vessels.
    • The navigation system can now replace GPS in the Indian Ocean waters upto 1500 km from the Indian boundary.
      • IRNSS is a regional and not a global navigation system.
      • With the recognition as a component of the WWRNS, the Indian navigation system is similarly placed as Global Positioning System (GPS - USA), most commonly used by marine shipping vessels across the world or the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS).
    • It is being considered as a significant achievement towards the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.
      • Apart from navigational benefits it has strategic importance as it reduces overdependence on the global navigation system.
  • Important Navigation Systems:
    • USA navigation system: The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system that consists of 24 orbiting satellites.
    • Glonass is Russian Satellite Navigation System considered as a counterpart to GPS of the USA.
    • BeiDou Navigation Satellite System of China: A hybrid constellation consisting of around 30 satellites in three kinds of orbits.
    • Galileo is Europe's Global Navigation Satellite System.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System

  • IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system developed by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).
  • The main objective is to provide reliable position, navigation and timing services over India and its neighbourhood.
  • The IRNSS constellation was named as “NavIC” (Navigation with Indian Constellation) by the Prime Minister.
  • NavIC provides two types of services:
    • Standard Positioning Service (SPS) is meant for the general public.
    • Restricted Service (RS) is an encrypted service meant for authorised users and agencies.
  • Unlike the widely used GPS which includes 24 satellites, NavIC has 8 satellites and their range is within India and its adjoining regions extending up to 1,500 km from the country's border.
  • Technically satellite systems with more satellites provide more accurate positioning information. However, compared to GPS which has a position accuracy of 20-30 metres, the NavIC is able to pinpoint location to an estimated accuracy of under 20 metres.


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