ISRO plans joint moon mission with Nasa

Several PSLV projects lined up this year, says Radhakrishnan

ISRO plans joint moon mission with Nasa

Another dimension to the ''moon mission'' may open up as Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is planning a joint mission with United States’ National Aeronautics Space Administration’s (Nasa) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) to collect samples from the moon.

“This (project) is in the planning phase, alongside India’s lunar mission programme activities centered around ‘Chandrayaan II,”  ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan told a news conference here after the successful launch of PSLV-C16 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, 100 km North of Chennai.

Nasa is planning to execute this mission in the year 2016, while the ISRO will provide the “communicating orbiter” of the project, besides chipping in with a few scientific instruments, he said. That will be called the “Moonrise Mission.”

Stating that the Rs 462-crore “Chandrayaan II” project activities were progressing well, Radhakrishnan said as of now it is planned for 2013-14. It will be launched on board a “Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle” (GSLV). The mission orbiter and rover are the Indian components to this joint programme with Russia, he noted.

To a query on ISRO’s cooperation with the Russian Space Agency, Radhakrishnan said various aspects in developing the indigenous cryogenic stage engine for GSLV flights and incorporating some modifications to the Russian supplied cryogenic stage are progressing. India had also signed an MoU with Russia for building “navigation receivers,” he noted. These will be for augmenting satellite-based “GPS systems.”

The country’s next communication satellite “GSAT-8,” weighing 3,200 kg, is scheduled to be launched by the “Ariane rocket-5” from Korou in French Guyana on May 19, he said. With 24 transponders in the ‘KU-BAND’, it will substantially augment satellite-based communication facilities, including DTH (Direct to Home) services.

Radhakrishnan and Veeraraghavan, Director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, also disclosed that the ISRO had a tight schedule this year, having lined up a series of PSLV launches.

This will commence with the launch of PSLV-C17, with an application spacecraft, either by June-end or first week of July 2011, they said.

Another project

Another important mission will be the “PSLV-C18,”  an Indo-French joint effort, scheduled for August this year. It will orbit the “mega tropics” satellite to study tropical weather conditions.

The satellite is getting ready in Bangalore.

The third critical mission, “PSLV-C19,” planned from Sriharikota in the last quarter of 2011, will orbit “RISAT,”  a radar-imaging micro-wave remote sensing satellite. India is foraying into “microwave remote sensing satellites,” a new major area.

Such satellites can even pierce cloud covers to get more accurate pictures. The ISRO chief also expressed satisfaction over having built and delivered a key communication satellite “Hilas” to a customer in the United Kingdom recently.

It demonstrated India ’s capabilities in building state-of-the-art-satellites. Asked about the two-member committee to go into the S-band spectrum allocation, which created a major row in the backdrop of ISRO’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation’ entering into a deal with a Bangalore-based private company, Radhakrishnan said the panel has submitted its report to the Centre. 

The government is processing the report.

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