NEW DELHI: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) now knows the exact location of communication satellite GSAT-6A with which the signal link got snapped soon after its launch from Sriharikota on March 29.
Talking to TOI, Isro chairman Dr K Sivan said, “With the help of the satellite tracking system and other sources, we now know the exact location of GSAT-6A. Earlier, we were searching in the dark. But now we know the exact position of the satellite and keeping a close watch on its movement round-the-clock.
We are hopeful that at a particular orientation, it will capture the signal from the ground station and communication will be restored. Currently, GSAT-6A is moving in the geo transfer orbit at perigee of around 26,000km and apogee of about 33,000km.”
On the power front, Dr Sivan said, “We expect that the satellite has the power as its solar panels are fully deployed and getting recharged.” He said, “Currently, two teams are working simultaneously in Isro. One is busy restoring the link with GSAT-6A and the other in preparation of the launch of navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on Thursday.” IRNSS-1I, the eighth satellite to join the constellation of navigation satellites, will be launched at 4.04am on Thursday from Sriharikota by PSLV-C41 and the countdown will start from Tuesday night.
On addition of any new safety mechanism in IRNSS-1I to avoid power failure, the chairman said, “Power systems used in GSAT-6A and IRNSS-1I are totally different. The power system being used in IRNSS-1I is very simple and proven as all seven navigation satellites launched earlier are working successfully.”
IRNSS-1I is being launched to replace first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A, whose three Rubidium atomic clocks (meant to measure precise locatioal data) had stopped working two years ago. The launch of the first replacement satellite IRNSS-1H on August 31 last year was a failure as the satellite got stuck in the heat shield soon after its launch.
To avoid the heat shield glitch again, Dr Sivan said, “The glitch in the heat shield opening has been sorted out. The successful launch of Cartosat-2 series satellite in January this year and GSAT-6A on March 29 showed the improved system for the heat shield opening mechanism is working fine.”
On upcoming launches this year, the Isro chairman said, “Before the Chandrayaan-2 launch in the first week of October, we will launch three to four launches. After IRNSS-1H launch on Thursday, we will be busy in the launch of heaviest satellite GSAT-11 weighing over 5 tonne from the Guiana space centre. Thereafter, we will launch GSLV Mk III D2 (Isro’s ‘fat boy’). We are targeting to launch nine satellites after IRNSS-1I launch on Thursday. Almost, one launch every month.”
Isro has been increasing its frequency of launches in recent years in order to meet the national requirement of satellites in the areas of communication, earth observation and navigation.