Antariksham Weekly #03
RH-560 MkIII Launch Successful, Official Government Documents detailing future missions, Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2021 and more ...
ISRO's NISAR payload flagged off to JPL, NASA
ISRO is collaborating with NASA for a Synthetic Aperture Radar mission called NISAR (NASA-ISRO SAR Mission). The mission, planned to be launched next year onboard GSLV, completed a significant milestone. The Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad (SAC/ISRO), shipped the S-band SAR payload to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL/NASA) for integration with the L-Band SAR payload.
RH-560 Mk-III Maiden Flight Successful
As shared in the last week's newsletter, the latest sounding rocket in ISRO's Rohini series planned its first launch this week. The launch was successful, and ISRO's Twitter handle shared some pretty pictures of the launch. The launch had payloads to study attitudinal variations in the neutral winds and plasma dynamics.
NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) organised its first Press Meet
NewSpace India Limited, CMD, Mr G Narayanan and Director, Technical and Strategy, organised a press meet on 12th March 2021. Not much information was released in the update. A few media articles detailing the Meet are mentioned in the last section below.
ISRO and JAXA signed an Agreement for air quality and rice crop monitoring
ISRO chairman, Dr K Sivan, signed an Implementing Arrangement for collaborative activities on rice crop area and air quality monitoring using satellite data during a recent Bilateral virtual meeting with Dr Hiroshi Yamakawa, President of Japanese Space Agency JAXA. The two leaders also discussed the 2024 joint Lunar Mission.
Official Government Reports and Documents
345th Report of the Department-related Standing Committee on Demand of Grants - Dept of Space
Department-related Standing Committee on Demand of Grants submitted their report on the Department of Space in Rajya Sabha. The report comes after a Committee meeting with the Secretary and other offices of the Department of Space on 22nd February 2021.
The committee made many important observations and suggested changes in the budget. They especially asserted the importance of completing the Chandryaan-III and Gaganyaan missions on schedule and pointed out that the missions "must not suffer due to any budgetary constraints whatsoever" (section 3.4).
For me, it was heartening to see the committee pointing ISRO to improve their outreach (section 4.4).
Some other key points raised by the committee were consolidated by Reddit user r/pradx:
Asked for more communication and remote sensing satellites for commercial and defence purposes (section 6).
Called for the tabling of the Space Activities Bill (section 8).
Commented on whether we are opening up the space sector to the private sector too fast and about security implications of the same (section 8).
Questioned whether NSIL will replace ISRO (section 9).
Output-Outcome Framework for 2021-22
ISRO released the Output-Outcome Framework document for the 2021-22 Financial Year. This document helps us understand the plans of ISRO for the upcoming period. Some of the key points are listed below:
"One test vehicle launches" is planned, which points to the first GSLV Mk-III Unmanned Flight test of the two overall.
"100% completion of Qualification and validation of Crew Escape System and Parachute System" means that we can see the Crew Escape System flight test this year as well.
ISRO plans seven satellite missions this year, one onboard a GSLV and four on 2 PSLV missions.
The final two satellites will be launched by the latest SSLV (Small Satellite Launch Vehicle) in two separate launches.
Amongst the seven satellites, two will be communication satellites.
Space Science Missions
Chandryaan-III and Aditya-L1 missions will achieve 90% completion, while the XPOSAT (X-ray Astronomy Mission) will achieve 100%.
This means ISRO will launch all three missions in the year 2022.
Parliamentary Q&A at Lok Sabha [10th March 2021]
On 10th March 2021, Lok Sabha members asked a few queries on planned missions, astronaut training and new space sector reforms. You can find the summary for the same here.
Podcasts, Conferences and Webinars
Why some Indians are starting space startups abroad?
Sethu (CEO of ReOrbit) talks about his perspectives on why he chose Finland as a home to his startup and reflects on what can make the ecosystem in India more welcoming to have more and more Indian entrepreneurs start their space ventures out of India.
52nd Lunar and Planetary Science Conference
One of the biggest Planetary Science Conferences, LPSC 2021, is underway this week. Thanks to one of the official microbloggers of the event @Astro_Neel, here are some of the India-related poster and presentation updates:
SPECTRAL OBSERVATIONS FROM IMAGING INFRARED SPECTROMETER (IIRS) ONBOARD CHANDRAYAAN-2 ORBITER: RADIANCE DATA COMPARISONS
A joint collaborative research group published a poster on the latest spectral observations from the IIRS payload onboard CY-2 from IIT Kanpur, IIRS/ISRO, PRL/Ahemdabad, SAC/ISRO and NISER/Bhubaneswar.
CURRENT STATUS OF THE PLANNED LUNAR POLAR EXPLORATION MISSION JOINTLY STUDIED BY INDIA AND JAPAN
Scientists at JAXA share updates regarding the joint Lunar Polar Exploration Mission (LUPEX) of ISRO and JAXA.
REPORT ON THE LOSS OF VIKRAM LANDER OF CHANDRAYAAN 2 MISSION
As the Department of Space never released any report on the failure analysis of the Vikram Lander of CY-2, a research team at Podicherry University makes an educated hypothesis of what could have gone wrong with the lander.
Chandrayaan-1 Moon Impact Probe: Impact Location Refined
An independent study to refine CY-1's Moon Impact Probe (MIP) location on the lunar surface. They utilise various images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Future of Aerospace and Avionics in India | Dr K Sivan
Dr K Sivan, chairman of ISRO, addressed students and faculty of UPES University. I was unable to attend the webinar, but the university has shared the video on YouTube. A lot of renders for upcoming missions and technologies can be seen in the slide deck used.
Other News Articles
ISRO's commercial arm NSIL bags four more contracts, eyes satellite deals