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ISRO Is Grappling With Three Non-Functional Imported Atomic Clocks In One Regional GPS Satellite

Published on 13 June, 2017 at 9:29 pm By

India is yet to open its very own regional navigational system in the commercial market but ISRO is still grappling with a major setback which hit the otherwise widely praised space feat a few months ago.


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The IRNSS-1E satellite being prepared before launch. SpaceFlight

In January this year, reports stated that all three atomic clocks on one of the seven satellites which form the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) have failed.

The failure of the rubidium clocks on the IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven satellites to go into space, might hamper accurate distance calculations.

All the three clocks are part of the 27 imported from Europe by ISRO. Each of the seven satellites are fitted with three clocks. Usually, one clock is functional at a time while the rest are for backup. The remaining 6 clocks will be fitted on the two satellites which are on standby.

 

IRNSS-1F in clean room during its integration. ISRO

According to The Hindu, one of the clocks on IRNSS-1A had failed sometime in July 2016. The last of the seven satellites was launched on April 28, 2016.



In January 2017, ISRO Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar had said, “The problem is only with the clock system of one spacecraft. The signals are all coming, we are getting the messages, everything else is working and being used, except the stability portion which is linked to the clock.”


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Panaromic view of Fully integrated PSLV-c31 with IRNSS-1E at Second Launch Pad ISRO

It should be noted that only four satellites are required to be operational at any time for the GPS system to perform normally.

Speaking to TOI on June 13, Kumar refuted rumors of more atomic clocks facing malfunctions. European Union’s Galileo navigational satellites, too, are facing the same atomic clock problem.

He said that not only is ISRO preparing for the launch of another navigational satellite by July but also trying to restart the clocks of IRNSS-1A.

 


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Each of the satellites have a life span of 10 years. The entire project cost Rs.1,420.

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