India’s Recent Advances In Space Technology

Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS)

Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite

Facts:

  • Hyper Spectral Imaging Satellite (HysIS), country’s first hyperspectral imaging satellite for advanced earth observation, is slated for launch from Sriharikota.
  • About 30 small satellites of foreign customers will be ferried on the PSLV launcher, numbered C-43, the Indian Space Research Organisation has announced.
  • It is the third longest, low-earth mission of ISRO. The satellites would be ejected in two orbits by restarting the rocket’s fourth-stage engine twice.
  • The PSLV, flying in its core-alone format, will first release HysIS to an orbit at 636 km 17 minutes after the launch.
  • In its 13th flight of the Core-Alone version and 45th launch of the PSLV, ISRO carried one satellite each from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Malaysia, Netherlands and Spain, and 23 satellites from the U.S. on board as co-passengers of the HysIS.
  • The primary goal of HysIS is to study the Earth’s surface in visible, near-infrared and shortwave infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • HysIS will be ISRO’s first full-scale working satellite with this capability. While the technology has been around, not many space agencies have working satellites with hyperspectral imaging cameras as yet.

PSLV-C43

Usage:

  • A hyperspectral imaging camera in space can provide well-defined images that can help identify objects on earth far more clearly than regular optical or remote sensing cameras.
  • The technology will be an added advantage in watching over India from space across sectors including defence, agriculture, land use and mineral exploration.
  • The new ‘eye in the sky’ can be used to even mark out a suspect object or person on the ground and separate it from the background with applications in transborder infiltration etc.
  • To a question whether HysIS could be used for anti-terror operations, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said ISRO’s job was only to build the satellite, but did not rule out such a possibility. “Our duty is to mainly build the satellite which can precisely identify an object. The usage…we are not bothering. That depends on the users. Right now it is meant for Earth Observation missions. But after seeing the results, may be…but it’s not in our hands,” he said.

GSAT-11 –

Facts:

  • The 5,854-kg satellite, almost double the biggest one built or launched by ISRO to date, rode up on European launch vehicle Ariane 5 ECA, numbered VA246.
  • GSAT-11 is part of ISRO’s new family of high-throughput communication satellite (HTS) fleet that will drive the country’s Internet broadband from space to untouched areas; where, the broadband domain is now ruled by underground fibre and covers partial and convenient locations.

GSAT-11

Usage:

  • Already up in space are two HTSs — GSAT-29 (November 14) and GSAT-19 (June 2017) — while one more is due to join them in the near future. They are all to provide high-speed Internet data services at the rate of 100 Gbps (Gigabits per second) to Indian users.
  • The HTSs will also be the backbone of pan-India digital or easy Internet-based programmes and services — such as Digital India, BharathNet for rural e-governance, and commercial and public sector VSAT Net service providers.
  • GSAT-11’s multiple spot beam coverage — 32 in Ku band and eight in Ka bands — will deliver an improved service of 16 gbps over the Indian region and nearby islands.
  • GSAT-11 will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country. It will also provide a platform to demonstrate new generation applications. 

Indian Space Law – A Future need

Focus:

  • Experts on Space Law are of the view that a legislation on space will need to offer some serious radical changes. To begin with, the proposed law should vest the regulatory functions being performed by ISRO (and Department of Space) in an independent regulatory body.
  • Further, if ISRO has to focus exclusively on research and innovation, then the burden of day-to-day operations will have to be shifted to the private sector.
  • The proposed space law should also be able to effectively oversee satellite -building activities and launch services in India, ensuring that the country has the requisite competence to discharge liability as a “launching state”.
  • There are some related issues as well which the law will need to adequately address, viz. liability for space debris, responsibility for monitoring space activities arising out of India’s territory or mandate liability owing to failures during launch of payloads into space, management of the assets of the space programmes, to name a few.

Steps Taken:

  • As of now the only visible step in the space arena is the Draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill, 2016, which was released by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 4, 2016. As per the draft Bill, it will be mandatory to take permission from a government authority before acquiring, disseminating, publishing or distributing any “geospatial information of India”. Clearly the Draft Bill is nowhere near a full-fledged domestic space law that can govern and protect the country’s sovereign and commercial interests as a space-faring nation.
  • Enactment of an overarching national law on space will send the right message to the international space community that the country has the necessary vision to back up its technological capability.
  • It will also answer the question if we are indeed serious about giving opportunities to entrepreneurs and start-ups who inspired by ISRO’s many achievements are looking to explore the tremendous opportunities which the realm of space offers.

A dynamic space law has now become imperative irrespective of whether we choose to allow private industry to emerge in the country’s space domain and enhance ISRO’s many achievements; or promote Antrix Corporation —ISRO’s commercial arm—as the country’s leading launch services provider. 

Q.1 “India’s ambitious Space Programme will foster the assertion of India’s position and role in the international space.” Comment. (250 Words) 

Q.2 Indian Satellite is the link between connectivity and communication technology. Discuss in the light of recent launches of HysIS and GSAT-11 satellites by ISRO. (250 word)

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