Edge in GPS

The successful launch by the Indian Space Research Orgnanisation (ISRO) of the second satellite, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS-1B), from Sriharikota last week, will give India global positioning system capabilities which only a few other countries have. 

First satellite in a series of seven was launched last year and it is working well in its designated position in the orbit. The latest lift-off also signified a landmark 25th consecutive launch success of the PSLV, which has become the dependable mainstay of India’s space ventures. 

Other satellites in the series are scheduled for launch in the coming months and together they will give the system geo-spatial coverage of an area including the country’s entire territory and 1,500 km beyond its borders. The ISRO aims to achieve this by the end of 2015.

An efficient and accurate navigational support system is important both in civilian and defence sectors. It is necessary to find directions for traffic on land, sea and in the air.
 
India has been working for a long time to put in place a satellite system which enables this and now it is closer to reality.

Civil aviation, marine navigation and road transport will benefit much from the use of facilities offered by the system.

Areas like communications, disaster management and mining are others that will gain.

There are also major applications in the defence field like finding directions in unfamiliar territories, tracking military vehicles and giving guidance for aircraft, drones and missiles.

Military uses are now expected to account for only a small part of the IRNSS capabilities.

But they are important as they will give the forces more accurate and real time information to aid their operations. 

The accuracy range of information provided by the system will be in metres.
 
Only the US, the European Union, Russia, China and Japan have such a satellite-guided navigational system functioning now. 

India uses the Russian system for its Russian-origin military gear like aircraft and missiles. 

The US Global Positioning System (GPS) is in wide use for civilian purposes but cannot be depended on in all situations. 

Other countries can deny use of their systems whenever they want. That underlines the vital need to develop our own facilities.

Footprint of the Indian system would initially cover only the region but can later be expanded to the global level. 

Once the system becomes fully operational, it will offer commercial opportunities also because IRNSS facilities are cheap and economical.
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