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2015: A Splendid Year For India's Space Programme

In 2015, India became the third country in the world to offer Global Navigational Satellite System based precision approach services to the civil aviation sector

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In 2015, the Indian space programme gained in both strength and momentum. Be it the success of the Mars Orbiter Spacecraft which completed its mission objective of one year around Mars orbit or the successful launch of GSAT-15 communication satellite that is augmenting the capacity of DTH, TV broadcasting, digital satellite news gathering and VSAT services, 2015 has been a landmark year for the department of space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the government said.

In the year gone by, the India's satellite based mobile communications for strategic applications got a big boost when in August GSAT-6 was launched. It carries S-Band payload with 5 spot beams and C-Band Payload with one beam which will help satellite based communications involving handheld devices. India Post is expected to avail the services by taking mobile banking solutions in the rural area by relying on the features of GSAT-6.

Also, in 2015 India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) launched 17 foreign satellites from seven countries - Canada, Indonesia, Singapore, UK, and USA - taking the total number of foreign satellites launched by India to 57, thereby further strengthening India's name in the global space arena.

India also saw the launch of Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System (IRNSS) which is designed as a constellation of seven satellites to provide satellite based navigational services in the country. IRNSS-1D, the fourth satellite in this series was successfully launched on-board PSLV-C27 on March 28, 2015. The first two satellites viz. IRNSS 1A and 1B were launched on-board PSLV earlier on July 01, 2013 and April 04, 2014 respectively. With the operationalization of four navigational satellites in orbit, it is now possible to provide Position, Navigation and Timing services. The IRNSS constellation of seven satellites is expected to be completed by 2016.

According to Department of Space, the IRNSS System will benefit the country by providing positioning services over Indian Land Mass and a region extending to the about 1500 kms around India. "The convergence of communication, earth observation and navigation satellite technologies will prove to be a boon in coming years for location based services and informed decision making," said an official communication of the ministry.

In 2015, India also became the third country in the world, after USA and European Union, to offer Global Navigational Satellite System (GNSS) based precision approach services to the civil aviation sector. The GAGAN System jointly developed by ISRO and the Airport Authority of India aims to redefine navigation in both aviation and non-aviation application areas.

Come 2016, data connectivity to rural India may get a big push using the Indian satellite program. The department of space and ISRO have fast-tracked the realization and launch of GSAT-11 communication satellite. GSAT-11 is an advanced communication satellite with Ku and Ka Band communication payload capable of providing upto 10 Gbps throughput. With such capacity, this satellite is expected to provide high bandwidth data connectivity for rural India as envisaged under Digital India. According to the ministry, satellite structure for this program is already realized and payload fabrication is in progress and the satellite is expected to be launched in 2017.