Year-ender: ISRO launches stretched from January to December

Chennai: The year 2018 will go down as one of the most productive years for ISRO with seven launches, completing 17 missions. The year began with the launch of PSLV C40 carrying the Cartosat-2 series satellite 12 January. The launch was done using the PSLV-XL launcher-type vehicle.

After a brief gap of about 2 months, the first GSLV launch of the year happened 29 March with the GSLV-F08 carrying the GSAT-6A. PSLV-XL once again came into the picture when IRNSS-11 was launched 12 April, which was followed by the launch of PSLV-C42 carrying two British statellites – NovaSAR and S1-4.


GSAT-29 became the heaviest satellite to be launched from India. The launch vehicle, GSLV MkII-D2 was used for this purpose. The satellite was launched with the aim to intensify communication and broadband services in remote areas.


In a major achievement, PSLV-C43 successfully placed 31 satellites (30 foreign and one Indian) 29 November. The one Indian satellite, HysIS, weighing 380 kg, was launched to study the earth’s surface in the visible, near infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.


In another breakthrough, India’s heaviest satellite, GSAT-11, was launched from Kourou launch base in French Guiana atop the Ariane-5 VA-246 launch vehicle. The GSAT-11 launch, originally planned for 2018, suffered multiple delays and finally took off 5 December. The 5,854 kg GSAT-11 is designed to provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands. This is part of the government target to achieve 100 gb per second data speed. ISRO crossed 100 missions when GSAT-11 was launched.


The year ended on a high note for ISRO when 2,250-kg GSAT-7A satellite was placed in orbit by GSLV-F11, 19 December. The satellite is part of Indian Angry Bird military communications series of GSAT-7 and GSAT-6.


Apart from all these launches, ISRO also tested astronaut escape feature in July this year. A critical technology for human spaceflight, the test of the Crew Escape System was carried out for the first time by ISRO. It will help India’s effort to send manned missions to space in the near future.


Scientist K Sivan, known as the ‘Rocket Man’ for his significant contribution in the development of cryogenic engines for India’s space programme, was appointed the Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in January this year. Prior to that he was the director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram which is responsible for the design and development activities for all launch vehicles. Sivan succeeded A S Kiran Kumar and has a three-year term as ISRO chief.


After the succesful launch of GSAT-7A, K Sivan said Chandrayaan-2 project was on track, and the space agency was planning to carry out 32 missions next year. “It will be a busy 2019 year for us. Chandrayaan-2 launch is being planned in the first quarter of 2019. The launch window is between January 3 and February-end. We are striving hard for that,” he said. ISRO has managed to accomplish 17 missions this year and the next target is raised to 32 missions.

Balasubramani Muniyandi