ISRO Directors Discuss Megha Tropiques & Risat-1 Launch At Outreach Program
By Srinivas Laxman | Top News
August 16, 2011
ISRO held an outreach program in Mumbai with K.C. college students, marking the 92nd birth anniversary of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program.
AsianScientist (Aug. 16, 2011) – Hectic preparations are currently underway for the launch of the nearly 500 kg satellite designated as Megha Tropiques, a joint Indo-French venture, next month at Sriharikota, in Andhra Pradesh, India.
The primary role of the satellite with three payloads will be to study the water cycle in the tropical atmosphere, keeping in view any climate changes. It will have a mission life of five years.
Speaking to Asian Scientist Magazine, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Satellite Center director, Thekkethil Kochandy Alex, said that the satellite is undergoing tests and will be soon shifted to Sriharikota for mating with the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
“Our current plan envisages launching the satellite during the end of September,” he said.
Alex was in Mumbai along with other top ISRO officials to participate in an outreach program during which the space agency opened itself to the students and staff of Kishinchand Chellaram (K.C.) College, a premiere educational institution of the city.
The event, held on August 12, also marked the 92nd birth anniversary of Vikram Sarabhai, the father of India’s space program.
The launch of Megha Tropiques will further strengthen Indo-French space collaboration which has spanned for nearly four decades. ISRO and its French counterpart, Centre National d’Etudes Spaciales (CNES), have identified future areas of collaboration which include earth observation relating to climate change and space exploration. A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to this effect was signed in December 2010 during the visit of the French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Bangalore.
After Megha Tropiques, another Indo-French satellite called Saral will be launched either towards the end of this year or in 2012. With a five-year life span, it will be an earth-sensing satellite with a focus on the sea.
Preparations will also begin in full swing for the launch of Risat-1, a radar imaging satellite, in December 2011. The 1,780 kg satellite is equipped with a synthetic aperture radar for carrying out weather observations.
“There will be no relaxation for our space scientists and engineers after the launch of Megha Tropiques because they have to immediately begin working on the launch of Risat-1,” remarked an official.
Alex said that in March 2012, an India-built communication satellite, GSat-10, will be launched by Arianespace’s Ariane-5 rocket from the European spaceport of Kourou in French Guyana.
Weighing about 3,425 kg the satellite will be mainly used for communication, navigation, and broadcasting. It will be the 15th Indian satellite flown by the European rocket since 1981. An advanced version of the Geo Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), designated as GSLV Mark 3, is now under development. Once operational, tentatively either in 2012 or 2013, the GSLV Mark 3 will reduce India’s dependence on the Ariane-5 and lead to considerable savings.
According to Alex, India’s second mission to the moon, Chandrayaan-2, is slated for lift off either in 2013 or 2014.
“We are constructing a facility at the ISRO Satellite Center in Bangalore which will simulate the lunar environment in which our rover will be tested,” he said.
The Rs. 425 crores (US$93.7 million) Chandrayaan-2 mission is in collaboration with Russia. While the rocket, spacecraft, and rover will be from India, only the lander will be of Russian origin. The lander will detach from the main spacecraft and fly the rover to the lunar surface, executing a soft landing.
In his presentation to the students and the teachers, Alex said that 15 countries including the US and Russia use data provided by India’s Remote Sensing Satellites, nine of which are currently operational.
Another ISRO director, S. Satish, said that ISRO’s annual budget was Rs. 6626 crores (US$1.46 billion), of which nearly 40 to 45 percent was spent on collaboration with industries. Satish added that ISRO’s total assets in space was valued at Rs. 15,000 crores (US$3.3 billion). In the last 40 years, ISRO has launched 34 rockets and 62 satellites; of the 62 satellites, 26 were for foreign customers, he said.
That the sessions proved inspiring were amply evident from the fact that soon after the talks the students thronged towards the speakers, especially Satish, inquiring whether they could join ISRO.
Satish answered all their questions patiently and emphasized that ISRO was multidisciplinary and there was room for all science disciplines.
ISRO plans to have similar interactions with students from other colleges in the coming days.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.