The launch of satellite IRNSS-1H by ISRO was delayed by a minute to avoid space debris.
- The heat shield did not separate from the satellite
- It was launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh
- Maiden launch of the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 in 1979 had also failed
The launch of India's first private-sector manufactured satellite, the IRNSS-1H, was declared unsuccessful today. AS Kiran Kumar, the chief of space agency ISRO, which handled the launch, said the satellite's protective heat shield, which is expected to separate and drop off, failed to do so. This was the second failure of PSLV, which had taken up the 1,425 kg satellite to space in its 41st mission. Launched from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, the satellite was expected to replace one of the seven orbiting satellite of NAViC, which is malfunctioning. NAViC, which is a system of seven satellites, powers India's homegrown Global Positioning System.
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"The 41st mission of PSLV has been unsuccessful. The heat shield did not separate and the satellite remains enclosed within the heat shield," said ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar. The trouble began three minutes into the launch but the outcome was known only 19 minutes later. The failure is of the rocket and the satellite built by the private consortium remains untested, scientists said.
A heat shield, which is part of the rocket, is meant to protect a satellite from the heat generated by the friction against atmosphere during the lift-off. In case of a satellite, once it is ready to be placed in the orbit, it is expected to separate and fall off.
For ISRO, several first launches have not gone down well. The maiden launch of the Satellite Launch Vehicle-3 in 1979 had been a failure; so was the launch of Augmented Satellite Launch Vehicle in 1987. In 1993, the first voyage of the PSLV, which is now considered the workhorse of Indian space missions, had been a failure as well.
The IRNSS-1H was built by a consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies, a defence equipment supplier from Bengaluru, over eight months. Led by Colonel HS Shankar, a team of 70 scientists supervised the operations. The Rs 400-crore company had been tasked to make two satellites. The second is expected to be finished by April 2018.
Colonel Shankar said "I have told ISRO Chairman that we shall put double manpower and resources free of cost and complete our work of building two more satellites in two instead of six months."
The launch of IRNSS-1H became necessary after three atomic clocks of the first IRNSS satellite, IRNSS-1A -- which lifted off in July 2013 -- started malfunctioning. The problem with the atomic clocks began in the middle of last year, with the failure of one clock. The other two failed over the next six months.
Atomic clocks provide navigational data, and they are crucial for a Global Positioning System. But once a satellite, which has a lifespan of a decade, is in space, it is impossible to repair it.
Currently, besides India, only five nations have a satellite system that offering Global Positioning - Japan, China, US, Russia and the European Union. The original GPS is owned by the US Air Force and Russia has its parallel system GLONASS.
IRNSS stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. But during the launch of its seventh satellite in April 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had christened the system NAViC.
For more than 40 years, space research agency ISRO had handled India's forays into space. The entry of the private sector became necessary as the country carved out a niche for itself in the lucrative space industry. Indian-made satellites are regarded as cheap and reliable. In February, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle sent 104 satellites in space -- 101 of them belonged to other nations.