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India’s First Navigational Satellite Launched; GPS-Like Service In 2016


About a fortnight late but the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has finally launched its first navigation satellite IRNSS-1A (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota yesterday night.

This is first of the seven navigation satellites to be launched and the organization plans to launch the remaining satellites by 2015-16, following which it will be able to provide navigation service in the country.

ISRO also claimed that it has setup several ground stations for the generation and transmission of navigation parameters, satellite control, satellite ranging and monitoring across 15 locations across the country.

A Deccan Chronicle report cites ISRO to say that the organization plans to launch a satellite every six months, which indicates that IRNSS will probably complete the deployment in 2016. It also cites ISRO officials to mention that the project will cost them Rs 14.2 billion.

Services: ISRO said that IRNSS will offer two type of services namely Standard Positioning Services for all users and Restricted Services (RS) which will be provided only to authorised users. In April 2013, ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan had also mentioned that IRNSS will allow them to offer several new satellite based services over the next two years, however he hadn’t disclosed any specific information on this.

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ISRO claimed (pdf) that the service will offer accurate position information to users in India and the region extending up to 1500 km from India’s boundaries and will provide a position accuracy of better than 20 metres in these areas.

The organization said that IRNSS will be used in areas like terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation sector, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management, Search and Rescue (SAR) operations, Mining and Surveying and Mapping sectors. It also aims to act as a terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers and offer visual and voice navigation for drivers.

Interestingly, it also mentions that IRNSS will feature integration to mobile phones, however it hasn’t disclosed any specific information on this. We are curious on how the government plans to offer this service over mobile phones, since we believe the existing phones doesn’t have the requisite receivers to make use of this navigational service. (Correct us if we are wrong).

Bhuvan Integration? Remember that ISRO also has a Google-Earth-like satellite mapping tool called Bhuvan, which had received a major upgrade earlier this year, bringing in disaster services, tourism information for specific places and high resolution datasets for four new states among others. We believe that Bhuvan will probably start using IRNSS to offer navigation services to its consumers. It can also possibly launch a mobile navigation app if the government is able to tackle the reception problem on mobile phones.

Competing Services: IRNSS competes with US Government’s GPS (Global Positioning service) and NIS Glonass’s satellite-based navigation service GLONASS (Globalnaya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema). China had also launched a navigation service called BeiDou in December 2012, which currently covers the Asia-Pacific region while the European Union and the European Space Agency is also building a satellite navigation system called Galileo.

RelatedIndian Govt To Launch GPS-Like Navigation System By 2016: Report

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(Image via ISRO website)

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