Indian Space Agency Embarks on Launch of 22 Satellites on Single Mission
The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is bracing for a landmark rocket launch on 20 June by placing as many as 22 satellites into orbit.
In what has been seen as an ambitious initiative in the country's quickly evolving space industry, most of the satellite payload which will be carried by the Indian rocket belongs to foreign nations. This is likely to pose a challenge other global players who have been vying for the lion's share in the nascent-yet-lucrative space-travel sector.
ISRO's chairman AS Kiran Kumar speaks to Sputnik news agency about the preparations for the imminent launch and the "secret ingredient" of the premier agency's cost-effective programs.
When asked about the unique aspects of the upcoming event, Kumar said: "Once you give a particular release command, all of them have to be operated at separate instances of time. And at what velocity each of them [satellites] is released. So, there are a number of mission analyses which are required."
"In this particular launch, we'll also be doing what we call the 'restart' – meaning the launch vehicle can put different satellites in different orbits. Last time we did only one 'restart' and this time we will be doing two."
In terms of numbers, this is India's largest amount of satellites which will be launched on a single rocket, though other nations have undertaken such ventures. For example, in a major show of strength, Russia launched 34 machines in 2014.
When questioned about the competition which ISRO faces from global space agencies, Kumar said: "More and more people are launching satellites because one of the things is there is an increasing demand for launching small satellites – micro, mini, and nano satellites. Their demand is sharply increasing. So, all the launch agencies have to find ways and means of supporting the demand."
Kumar, the Indian government's highest paid technocrat, has also spoken about the "secret ingredient" of how the ISRO manages such cost-effective projects, he added: "Since all the applications are all society-based and people working in the projects can also see the end-results reaching out to the society, there is a greater drive. This is a strong motivational factor." He also added that technology should not be pursued for the "sake of technology," but only the merits of its usefulness in the society. These two factors, Kumar said, together provide the necessary motivation for the teams in ISRO.
While speaking about the limitations the Indian space agency faces, he went on to say: "Today, one of the limitations ISRO has is the launch capacity itself. We must first identify the bottlenecks and then we have to make sure the bottlenecks are addressed properly. We still have not reached the full launch capacity for the two launch pads. First, we need to hit the full capacity and then can naturally expand. Since the industry is actively expanding, very soon we may reach that capacity and will take appropriate action."
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