The year 2016 was action packed for Indian space programme owing to the success of launch vehicles, satellites and space exploration programmes. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), launched a whopping 34 satellites into space this year including 22 foreign satellites and 12 Indian ones. Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) carried 33 of these satellites. 2016 also witnessed two successful advanced launch vehicle technology initiatives of ISRO, the Reusable Launch Vehicle-Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD) and SCRAMJET technology demonstrator. For the realisation of an Air-Breathing Propulsion System, India’s maiden experimental mission Scramjet Engine was successfully conducted on August 28, 2016, from Sriharikota. India also became the fourth country to demonstrate the flight testing of Scramjet Engine.
The famous Mars Orbiter Spacecraft of the country completed two years in its orbit around Mars and the ASTROSAT multi-wavelength observatory successfully completed one year in orbit. In a PIB release, ISRO said, “The health parameters of Mars Orbiter spacecraft are normal and all the five payloads are sending useful data. The Mars Colour Camera has produced more than 530 images so far, one of which has appeared on the cover page of the November 2016 issue of the National Geographic Magazine.” In the release, ISRO also talked about the initiatives it is taking along with the government in various fields. It said, “Department of Space is working closely with various Central Ministries/Departments and State Governments towards maximising the use of space technology in the various areas viz. Natural Resources Management, Energy & Infrastructure, Disaster & Early Warning, Communication & Navigation, e-Governance & Geospatial Governance and Societal Services. Many flagship programmes namely, Atal Mission for Rejuvenation & Urban Transformation; Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana; Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana; National Mission for Clean Ganga, Digital India & MGNREGA are also utilising space-based tools.
On the negative front, India lost a big case at the International Tribunal in The Hague against Devas Multimedia and may have to pay close to $1 billion. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s commercial wing, Antrix Corporation Ltd. cancelled a major contract with Devas, made in 2005 involving satellites.
(with PIB inputs)