The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will on Thursday evening, launch the eighth satellite in the IRNSS-NavIC navigation system, the IRNSS-1H aboard a PSLV rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
The 1,425 kg IRNSS-1H (IRNSS: Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) which will be launched aboard the 44-metre-tall four-stage PSLV-C39 rocket will replace the IRNSS-1A, which was the first satellite in the system but requires replacement as a result of all three of its on-board atomic clocks having failed.
The IRNSS-1H also has the unique distinction of being the first Indian satellite to be built by the private sector, under ISRO's supervision. It was built by a Bangalore-based consortium and will be placed in a geosynchronous orbit (i.e. with an orbital period that matches the rotation of the Earth, hence allowing it to remain in the same spot, relatively).
The NavIC is India's very own version of navigation satellite programmes like the US' GPS, Russia's Glonass, the European Space Agency's Galileo and China's BeiDou. It will provide two modes of mapping and navigation services covering the Indian and surrounding regions. One mode will be open to the public, while the other will be restricted for security purposes. As per ISRO's website, 'The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.'
The launch of the Navic comes at a time of unprecedented success for India's space agency which has established itself as a carrier-of-choice for launching satellites, not just for the needs of India, but for the world. The last few years have seen ISRO breaking a number of records for 'most satellites launched aboard a single rocket', a number that has now entered into triple-digits. ISRO faces competition, however, from other agencies, as well as private companies, such as SpaceX that are attempting to pioneer reusable rockets, which could drastically reduce the cost of space-related activities.