IRNSS satellite launch – another step towards self-reliance by India!

Today is a proud day for all Indians. We have taken one important step towards self-Imagereliance – to have our own GPS like satellite navigational system. Why is this so important? Read on……….

Speeding down a highway or steering through the city lanes, if you tap your smartphone or in-car navigation device to locate a fueling station, ATM, McDonald’s, or the good old dhaba, the one service you rely on is the global positioning system (GPS). Without it, flights cannot operate, communication networks won’t function, drones can’t fly, nor can bombs be dropped. In short, this dual-use technology is the global utility that the world has come to rely upon.

Globally there are 4 different navigational systems in operation. US leads the pack with 32 satellites in orbit and calls it the ‘GPS’ system. European satellite navigation programme called ‘Galileo’ is based on 24 satellites. Russian navigational system ‘Glonass’ has 23 satellites. Lastly Chinese have their own 16 satellite system which is also used by 4 other Asian countries including Pakistan.

To ease India’s dependence on America’s GPS and Russia’s Glonass, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has designed its own geo-spatial positioning system, a regional footprint service which will have 7 satellites. It is called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The first of these satellites was successfully launched yesterday, on 1st July 2013 and by early 2015, all seven satellites in this constellation will be up there, 35,000 km above the earth, to make the system fully operational. It will provide an all-weather absolute position over the Indian landmass and 1,500 km beyond its geo-political boundary.

It was essential for us to develop our own guidance system because when the control and navigation systems in defense projects are equipped with GPS devices, a country’s security rides on these radio signals. Presently for us these signals are controlled by either USA or Russia. It was found that during the Gulf war the U.S. had blocked GPS signals to Iraq and then inserted erroneous signals that left Saddam’s generals virtually blind as far as beyond visual range sighting and targeting was concerned. With IRNSS we will have full control on our navigational systems which has obvious advantages.

There could also be a market for military grade signals. As unlike China, India’s image is not of an aggressor and this should help to attract other countries in the region to use IRNSS. There is far less chance of India interrupting navigational signals for other countries as with other signal providers like US, European Union and China who all have global ambitions for influence and control.

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