With less than a month left for the proposed launch of 103 satellites at one go, Indian Space Research Organisation on Wednesday said its aim is to maximise capability with each launch and not set a record. “We are not looking at it as a record or anything. We are just trying to maximise our capability with each launch and trying to utilise that launch for the ability it has got and get the maximum in return,” ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar told reporters in Bengaluru.
Of the 103 satellites that ISRO’s workhorse PSLV-C37 is expected to carry, 100 are foreign. “They are all actually a constellation, they are getting into a constellation of satellites providing observation of earth,” Kumar said in response to a query on the sidelines of Karnataka ICT Summit 2017. The three Indian satellites are Cartosat-2 series, weighing 730 kg as primary payload, INS-IA and INS-1B, weighing 30 kg.
An official from the space agency said it was earlier planned to launch 83 satellites in the last week of January, of which 80 were foreign, but with the addition of 20 more foreign satellites the launch was delayed by a week and would now take place in the first week of February. Kumar also said ISRO was working on having more frequent launches and make use of each launch or maximise the capability of the launch vehicle itself.
“The next one is going to carry a number of satellites from various companies along with our own Cartosat-2 series satellite and immediately following that we have GSLV Mark III and Mark II…. In the first three months that’s what we are targeting, but beyond that we are trying to work for almost one launch a month,” he said. “The prime driver for all of this is to increase the capacity. Though we have the number of satellites in operation, we require many more for providing the necessary services that is needed,” he added.
After the success of the Mars mission, ISRO, which is currently conducting experiments for its second moon mission said “Another mission to Mars, Venus and Jupiter are on the horizon and studies are underway. As we are progressing, we need to look at long-term. So what we are looking beyond Chandrayan-2, for which we are already working on an approved programme,” Kumar said.
“Beyond that, Mars second mission and Venus mission are all on the horizon, we have to go through the various studies and then formulate, get the approval and move. Right now, they are all in the study phase,” he added. ISRO is conducting tests for hazard avoidance for Chandrayaan-2 as it lands at its facility in Challakere in Chitradurga district of Karnataka, where simulated lunar craters have been created to evaluate the performance of the system.
The ISRO Chairman and French Space agency (CNES) President Jean-Yves Le Gall in the presence of visiting French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Marc Ayrault had on Monday signed a partnership agreement in satellite launch technology. To a question on the agreement, Kumar said “Currently we are working with them on Oceansat-3… and then we are working for a future payload, on an infrared imaging sensor. We are also looking at possibilities of working with them in various areas of future developments of satellites, launch vehicles,” he added.
ISRO in the past had worked with CNES on sounding rockets, SARAL satellites programme and had also launched satellites for them.