The Indian Space Research Organisation on Monday successfully launched the Navic constellation. This satellite is part of India’s regional navigation system (IRNSS) network and augments coverage provided by global navigation satellite fleets operated by the US, Russia, China, and Europe. The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle – Mk II rocket deployed the 2,232-kilogram spacecraft NVS-1 into its sun-synchronous dawn-to-dusk orbit.
The GSLV Mk II, with an indigenous cryogenic stage, is ISRO’s workhorse and the heaviest rocket it has ever built. It is also the first time ISRO has used an indigenous rubidium atomic clock on board a navigation satellite. This is an important technology that only a few countries possess, ISRO said.
ISRO progressively lowered the NVS-1’s perigee – the point in its orbit closest to the Earth – through a series of maneuvers, spending about 120kg of fuel. These maneuvers were carefully designed to ensure the satellite would not get too close to crewed spacecraft and other debris in orbit.
NVS-1 is the second in the NavIC satellite series, which is intended to ensure the continuity of NavIC services – an Indian regional satellite navigation system similar to GPS that provides accurate positioning and timing signals. The NVS-1 navigation satellite will provide user position accuracy of better than 20 meters and a timing accuracy of 50 nanoseconds. It will operate in the L5 band, a protected frequency assigned explicitly to the Indian system.
The NVS-1 series will incorporate L1 band signals additionally to widen the navigation service to a broader user base, including non-ISRO users. In addition, the NVS-1 navigation satellite will join the IRNSS fleet, augmented by 21 ground-based navigation stations nationwide.
Isro also plans to expand the NavIC network by adding more satellites and ground networks. NavIC services are free for civilians and offered on a limited basis to defense forces.
A series of navigation satellites in the NavIC system is expected to be launched over the next couple of years. These will be upgraded versions of the existing NavIC satellites currently in orbit.
Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota – the main spaceport of India, is responsible for providing launch base infrastructure for ISRO’s space program. It houses two launch pads from where the GSLV and PSLV rockets take off for space missions. The facility is open to visitors and is a must-visit for anyone interested in Indian space exploration. However, the tour is limited to the assembly buildings, launch pads, mission control and launch control centers, and a space museum. The spaceport is about 130 km from Chennai. You can visit it on a self-drive or via an organized bus from the city.