The Indian Space Research Organisation today received a setback, when the launch of the much-anticipated IRNSS-1H failed. According to ISRO Chief AS Kiran Kumar, the mission was unsuccessful as the heat shields did not separate and therefore the satellite could not launch. “There was no problem in any of the stages. The heat shield did not separate, due to which it was unable to get into orbit,” Kumar said in a press conference. “The satellite got separated internally, but it is enclosed within the heat shield,” he added.
The launch was scheduled at 7 PM from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota, and the navigation satellite was launched on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-39. The launch was expected to set the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)-1H into a Sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. The space agency had maintained a 29-hour countdown for the project, which began at 2 pm yesterday afternoon.
What is ISRO IRNSS-1H navigation satellite?
Today’s launch by India’s space agency wass meant to send the eighth rocket of India’s navigation system, weighing 1425 kg and fitted with replacement atomic clocks, into orbit. This launch was important, as three Rubidium Atomic Frequency Standards (RAFS) clocks on the IRNSS-1A had malfunctioned.
This launch was considered critical, as India’s navigation still operates on the US-based Global Positioning System (GPS). The IRNSS-1H would have introduced Navigation with Indian Constellation, or NavIC, that would have provide accurate information services within Indian territory, and upto a distance of 1500 kms around India’s borders.
The NavIC satellite system was supposed to consist of 7 satellites, with two being set later as replacements. The IRNSS-1H launch was crucial, as atomic clocks help maintain Indian Standard Time, which is set by the National Physical Laboratory. Atomic clocks are known to have an error of one second in a million years. The failure of this launch suggests that the NPL will have to continue to rely on GPS for the maintenance of its available atomic clocks.
— ANI (@ANI) August 31, 2017
The NavIC system was set up after ISRO’s Telemetry and Command Network (ISTRAC) cell and National Physical Laboratory had signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier. The NavIC was expected to have standard positional service, for civilian purposes, and restricted service, which was to cater to the defence and ISRO.