Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

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  • PSLV is third generation launch vehicle indigenously designed and developed by ISRO.
  • It is one of world’s most reliable and versatile workhorse (launch vehicles) with 39 consecutively successful missions by June 2017.
  • It is a four stage launch vehicle and first Indian rocket to be equipped with liquid stages.
  • It can take up to 1,750 kg of payload to Sun-Synchronous Polar Orbits (SSPO) of 600 km altitude and payload of 1,425 kg to Geosynchronous and Geostationary orbits.
  • Four Stages:
  • The uppermost stage or fourth stage of PSLV comprises of two Earth storable liquid engines.
  • The third stage is solid rocket motor that provides upper stages high thrust after the atmospheric phase of the launch.
  • Second stage of PSLV uses an Earth storable liquid rocket engine, known as Vikas engine, developed by Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre.
  • The first stage uses the S139 solid rocket motor that is augmented by 6 solid strap-on booster.

 

 

GSLV MKIII

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  • GSLV MKIII is ISRO’s fifth generation three stage heavy lift launch vehicle.
  • The launch vehicle is capable of placing satellites weighing 4000 kg in GTO.
  • The first stage constitutes two massive boosters with solid propellants.
  • The core with liquid propellant and the cryogenic engine constitutes the second and third stages respectively.
  • The weight of GSLV Mark III is 641 tons roughly equals the weight of five fully loaded passenger aircrafts.
  • GSLV MarkIII, which took 15 years to make, is the heaviest among India’s operational launch vehicles. Also, with only 43 meters tall, it is also the shortest launch vehicles.
  • GSLV MKIII will be used to launch Chandrayaan-2 and Gaganyaan missions.

 

GSAT-29

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  • Communication satellite.
  • Weighing 3,423 kg
  • A multiband and multi-beam satellite.
  • The mission life will be 10 years.
  • Launched by GSLV MK III
  • The satellite’s Ku-band and Ka-band payloads will cater to the communication needs of people residing in remote parts of the country especially those from Jammu & Kashmir and North-Eastern regions.

Significance:

  • With the success of this flight, the Indian Space programme has achieved a significant milestone as the heaviest launcher (GSLV MKIII) lifted off the heaviest satellite (GSAT-29).
  • The success of this mission is also an important milestone for the Indian space programme as it showcases the self-reliance of ISRO in launching heavier satellites.
  • Also, the launch also signifies the completion of the experimental phase of GSLV Mark III.
  • The launch of GSAT-29 communication satellite will pave for bridging the digital divide in the country.
  • The launch of the satellite is also expected to aid Digital India Programme.
  • The satellite is also intended to serve as a test bed for several new and critical next generation payload technologies.

 

Space elevator

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  • It is proposed type of planet-to-space transportation system.
  • Its components mainly are cable (also called tether) anchored to surface of planet and extending into space.
  • It will permit vehicles to travel along cable from planetary surface, such as Earth’s, directly into space or orbit, without use of large rockets.
  • The idea of space elevator was first proposed in 1895 by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky after he saw Eiffel Tower in Paris and later it was revisited nearly century later in novel by Arthur C. Clarke.
  • The one end of cable of space elevator will be attached near to surface and the other end in space beyond geostationary orbit (35,786 km altitude).
  • The competing forces of gravity, which is stronger at lower end and outward or upward centrifugal force, which is stronger at upper end, will result in the cable being held up, under tension, and stationary over single position on Earth.
  • Once cable (tether) is deployed at fixed position, climbers can repeatedly climb it to venture into space by mechanical means, releasing their cargo to orbit.
  • Climbers also can descend tether to return cargo to surface from orbit.

Space-elevator

Aeolus satellite

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  • It is a wind-sensing satellite launched by European Space Agency (ESA).
  • The satellite is named Aeolus after guardian of wind in Greek mythology.
  • It will be placed at altitude of 320km above the Earth.
  • It is part of the Copernicus project, a joint initiative of European Union (EU) and European Space Agency (ESA) to track environmental damage and aid disaster relief operations.
  • Aeolus satellite is equipped with single instrument Doppler wind lidar (named Aladin), which is an advanced laser system designed to accurately measure global wind patterns from space.
  • It will probe lower layers of atmosphere, down to altitude of about 30 km to yield vertical profiles of wind and information on aerosols and clouds.
  • Significance: Aeolus satellite will provide much-needed data to improve quality and accuracy of weather forecasting. It will help to improve understanding of working of atmosphere dynamics and contribute to climate change research.

 

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Working of Doppler LIDAR

  • It transmits short, powerful pulses of laser light toward Earth in ultraviolet (UV) spectrum.
  • Particles in air (such as moisture, dust, gases) scatter small fraction of that light energy back to transceiver, where it is collected and recorded.
  • The delay between outgoing pulse and so-called backscattered signal reveals wind’s direction, speed and distance travelled.

Manned space mission by 2022

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Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his 72nd Independence Day speech vowed to put Indian in space by 2022 under manned space mission on board ‘Gaganyaan’.
  • This announcement gives Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) definitive timeline for manned space mission it has been working on for the last 15 years.

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Developments till now:

  • The proposed human spaceflight programme (HSP) has been on table since 2004.
  • ISRO is still long way away, despite advancements in some critical technologies in past decade.
  • It is stilling building its capabilities and developing critical technologies required to send astronaut being into space.
  • The mission will be completed at budget of Rs 10,000 crore and some of technology components required for it already have been developed.
  • This includes heavy-lift launch vehicle (GLSV Mark-III), re-entry and recovery technology, crew module, Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) and astronaut training.
  • The required key technologies ISRO still has to develop for such mission are : ability to launch, recover and ensure earth-like conditions for astronauts. I

Note: If successful, India will become fourth nation in the world to send astronaut into space after US, Russia and China. Former Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Rakesh Sharma was first Indian to travel to space. He was part of the Soviet Union’s Soyuz T-11 expedition, launched on April 2, 1984, as part of the Intercosmos programme.

Key Features of Mission

  • The entire cost of Gaganyaan mission will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
  • It will be totally indigenous, very cost-effective mission by Indian standards which is not viable from international standards.
  • Prior to actual launch of this manned mission by 2022, ISRO will launch  two unmanned Gaganyaan missions (first in 30 months’ time and then 36 months).
  • Launch Phase: 
    • GSLV Mk-III launch vehicle will be used to launch Gaganyaan as it has necessary payload capability for this mission.
    • The spacecraft will comprise of crew module and service module that constitute orbital.
    • It weighs approximately 7 tonnes and will be placed in low earth orbit (LEO) of 300-400 km. Crew module’s size will be 3.7 meters and of service module will be 7 meters.
  • Orbital Phase: 
    • The mission will send three-member crew to space for period of five to seven days.
    • The launch vehicle will take off from spaceport of Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh and it will reach desired orbit in 16 minutes.
    • The crew will be selected by Indian Air Force (IAF) and ISRO jointly after which they will undergo training for two-three years.
    • It will conduct microgravity experiment during the mission.
  • Re-entry phase:
    • The velocity of whole module will be reduced and will be turned in opposite direction so that it can start to come down.
    • When it will reach distance of 120 km from Earth’s surface, service module will be removed and separated out.
    • The module carrying crew alone will come back to earth, this will take about 36 minutes to reach Earth.
    • ISRO is planning to land crew module in Arabian Sea, closer to Gujarat coast or in Bay of Bengal or even on land from where the crew will be recovered
  • Execution time: 
    • The mission may be executed six months before India completes its 75th Independence Day in 2022. It is expected to be completed before 2022.

Questions:

  • Does India need it now?

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Xingkong-2

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  • It is cutting-edge hypersonic “waverider” flight vehicle being developed by China.
  • Waverider is flight vehicle that flies in atmosphere and uses shockwaves generated by its own hypersonic flight with air to glide at high speed.
  • It can carry can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.
  • It has capability to penetrate any current generation anti-missile defence systems due to its high speed and unpredictable trajectory.
  • As compared to it, current generation of anti-missile defence systems is mainly designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles which are either slower or easier to predict, making them possible to intercept.

Gaofen 11

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  • It is an optical remote sensing satellite launched by China.
  • It will become part of China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS)  initiated in 2010 to provide all-weather, all-day coverage by 2020.
  • It will be used for land survey, urban planning, road network design, agriculture, and disaster relief.
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Weaponization of space

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Context
  • U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the creation of a “space force” or a sixth branch of the American armed forces.
  • America’s attempt to weaponize space goes back to Cold War era an example being the Strategic Defence Initiative of the Reagan Administration.

What is a Space Force?

  • The Space Force will be a new department of the US military which Trump has described as “separate but equal”.
  • According to the plan, the Space Force will comprise three units.
  • The Space Command will be led by a four-star general to oversee warfighting operations.
  • The Space Development Agency will identify and develop new technologies.
  • The third unit is the Space Operations Force, made up of leaders and fighters for their expertise.
 
Why is this important for USA?
  • The intention is to see that the U.S. establishes and maintains dominance in space.
  • The purpose being to deny the Russians and the Chinese advantages in space.
  • There is exponential growth in China’s space military capabilities over the last two decades.
Opposition within USA?
  • What advantages it will bring to American war-fighting capabilities are still unclear.
  • U.S. Air Force — historically a major constituency and votary for space weapons — is not entirely enthusiastic about this new service, which could take resources away from it and the prestige
  • Adding another military arm would only compound the organisational challenges facing the U.S. armed services.
  • Objections have also emerged from within the Administration.
  • First, it could undercut ongoing missions
  • Second, it could very well increase budgetary allocations in the future.
  • Third, a space corps could undermine American efforts in the domain of joint warfare.
  • Nevertheless, the fundamental difficulty of a space corps is that the physical environment of space is not conducive to the conduct of military operations without incurring serious losses in the form of spacecraft and debris. And despite efforts to make spacecraft more fuel efficient, the energy requirements are enormous.
 
China and Russia’s responses
  • China has reiterated it opposes the weaponization of space. With a range of terrestrial interests in direct conflict with the Americans, Beijing will be in no mood to allow U.S. space dominance.
  • Russia has made it clear that it will vigorously take on the U.S. However, given its lack of the resources for competition, it will in all probability, for tactical reasons, align itself with China.
 
Implications for India
  • American military goals, which are still undefined in space, could still have consequences for India.
  • India is officially committed to PAROS, or the prevention of an arms race in outer space, it is yet to formulate a credible official response
  • India has yet to establish a credible space command of its own.
 
Way forward
  • India should come out with an official white paper on space weapons.
  • The government needs to engage with multiple stakeholders directly about the role space weapons will play in India’s grand strategy. More than their war-fighting attributes, space weapons have one principal function — deterrence.

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