The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has successfully put the navigation satellite IRNSS-1I into orbit. The 1,425 kg satellite was launched atop the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C41) on Thursday, April 12, 2018, from Satish Shawan Space Centre SHAR in Sriharikota at 4.04 am IST.
The IRNSS 1I satellite is the latest member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, also known as NavIC, which stands for Navigation with Indian Constellation. The Indian space agency has launched eight navigation satellites until now, the first in July 2013 and the last on August 31, 2017. The satellites are placed in the geosynchronous orbit at a fixed location and travel along with the Earth.
The navigation satellite system has been designed to provide position information in the Indian region and 1500 km around the Indian mainland. The satellite system provides accurate real-time positioning and works in a similar manner as the GPS. Notably, Russia and the U.S. are currently the only two countries that have fully operational GPS systems. Both Europe and China are in the process of deploying their full GPS systems.
IRNSS 1I is set to enter service in May. Its closest point will be 284 km above the Earth. It has been built by a consortium of firms led by Bengaluru-based aerospace firm Alpha Design Technologies in collaboration with the Indian space agency.
“I am extremely happy to announce that the 8th navigation satellite of India was launched successfully into the NAVIC constellation,” ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan said after the launch. “We are moving towards a major goal. This NAVIC constellation will create history.”
Sivan added that the space agency currently has nine launch missions lined up in the next eight months including the moon mission that is scheduled towards the end of the year. The satellite launch came mere two weeks after the GSAST 6A launch failure.