At exactly 9.31 am, a 44.4-metre high Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) rocket weighing 320 tonnes blasted off into the morning sky with an orange flame tailing it. That carried India’s fifth navigation satellite called IRNSS-1E.
With the successful launch of the satellite via PSLV-31, India has inched very close to a select group of countries having their own satellite navigation systems. India needs to launch two more satellites into orbit to complete the network of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Till date IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1D and IRNSS-1E, launched today, have been sent into orbit.
According to ISRO, IRNSS will provide accurate position information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1500 km from the country’s boundary.
The official website
of IRNSS describes it as a system that will provide two types of services, namely, Standard Positioning Service (SPS) which is provided to all the users, and Restricted Service (RS), which is an encrypted service provided only to the authorised users.
ISRO expects that IRNSS will provide a position accuracy of better than 20m in the primary service area.
The satellite’s control is now in the hands of the Mission Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka.
The MCF will manage the satellite’s orbit and fire the on-board motors till it is placed in its slotted orbit. Each IRNSS satellite costs around Rs.150 crore while the PSLV-XL version rocket costs around Rs.130 crore.
Being regional in nature, IRNSS system comprises only seven satellites. Similar systems which cover the globe have more than 20 satellites.
The IRNSS is similar to the global positioning system (GPS) of the US (24 satellites), Glonass of Russia, and Galileo of Europe, China’s Beidou. The first of the seven IRNSS satellites was launched on July 1, 2013. The last could be launched in orbit by March 2016.