Saturday, February 27, 2010

NASA contracting, ISRO expanding !!!

We truly live in surprising times. A decade ago, no one dreamt that apart from Russia and US anyone would succeed in space technology. Japan did succeed, but to expect from China and India was an exaggeration. Now, it is no longer so. China is way ahead and India is in the process of catching up. China and India both are leading players in remote sensing satellites. The areas where China has leaped ahead is manned space launches in 2003 (India is doing in 2015) and anti-satellite missile to destroy in 2007. Clearly, India is a decade behind China as far as manned space mission is concerned. Apart from manned missions and anti-satellite program, INDIA AND CHINA ARE ROUGHLY THE SAME IN SPACE CAPABILITIES....Hats off to ISRO....READ THIS INTERVIEW TO CONFIRM THIS as mentioned by Director of Human Space Exploration in Washington D.C. 

India and China can never match what US and Russia have in terms of technology. However, if NASA continues to contract and Russia doesn't expand, India and China will take a clear lead. As it is, China is the leading player in space after US and Russia. Both India and China learnt a lot from Russia and the US. and then moved towards indigenous technological development. If not for these 2 powers, India and China would not be anywhere.

Recently, NASA's much hyped moon mission was terminated and around 3,000 people were laid off at Huntsville and 400 people were laid off from Boeing space shuttle program at Kennedy Space Centers(Florida). NASA has even stopped all of its programs and have asked private companies to develop rockets and send astronomers on it. Around 6,500 workers and several contractors and sub-contractors were laid off recently.  A complete list can be found in the attached articles in the link here. While NASA is unable to complete the space station, China is working towards it and of course, India has a long way to go, but given another decade it will be able to do. 

On the other hand, ISRO has opened recruitment of people. They have received a major boost after Chandrayan-1's success. ISRO's Chandrayaan- 1 has given itself and our country a major boost to go ahead with space exploration. Unlike China that is gearing itself up to militarization of space, India doesn't want to be a part of it. ISRO's current and short term future plans are geared towards missions that offer greater value to common people in the country.

NASA outsourced?

It looks like the outsourcing has hit even the space program. Now, India and China continue to offer cheap space launches. India and China have been launching several foreign player payloads onto their spacecraft saving billions of dollars to the foreign players. India has achieved a rare feat of launching 10 nano satellites in one spacecraft (PSLV). Some claim India copied Russia. This was a precision which just cannot be achieved even if one claims copied Russia's. Implementation of spacecrafts just cannot happen by copying. You need great planning and skills to have an accurate launching the first time you ever do something. India's image has greatly enhanced in this particular endeavor which only Russia had so far.
ISRO helping the common man? Yes, read below...

One might wonder how much has ISRO helps common man? There are several facts to support the statement that ISRO does help the common man. 

  1. An excellent example is Oceansat-1 launched in 1999 that continues to help fisherman save a lot on diesel (boats they use to go for fishing). This is possible because Oceansat-1 relays continuous information on where the fish is more in the open sea. The information relayed from the satellite is converted into numerous local languages and are distributed to fishermen.  Here's what the Director of Vikram Sarabhai Space Center remarked on Oceansat-1.

  2. New applications of INSAT connectivity have emerged. One such application is the tele-medicine that makes specialised medical expertise available to people in remote areas. So far 46 tele-medicine nodes have been set up connecting 34 rural and remote hospitals with 12 super specialty hospitals. These include hospitals in Tripura. Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and Port Blair in Andaman and Nicobar.
  3. The INSAT system is used to track cyclone formations and their movements and issue warnings to the affected population in the coastal zones through the cyclone warning receivers.
  4. Almost 40 Doordarshan channels and several private players provide DTH (Direct-to-Home) services to several cities and villages. If there was no INSAT, there would have been no doordarshan or cable TV expansion in India.
  5. Sun, Zee TV depend on ISRO's Insat 4B without which Indian homes would not have access to several channels.

ISRO, in Sept 2009, launched Oceansat-2, replacing Oceansat-1. To know more about Oceansat-2, click here.

This has 3 major components (ocean colour monitor (OCM), scatterometer and radio occultation sounder (ROS) for atmospheric studies -- have been successfully turned on. The OCM, a multi-spectral imaging radiometer, provides information on chlorophyll concentration and helps locate potential fisheries zones. The scatterometer, an active microwave sensor, facilitates retrieval of sea-surface wind speed and direction, and monitoring polar sea-ice. The ROS measures parameters pertaining to lower atmosphere and ionosphere. The data provided by the different sensors on-board Oceansat -2, will also facilitate monitoring of turbidity and suspended sediments, sea-state and sea-surface winds, and meteorological/climatological studies. The satellite collects data over the entire globe once in two days.)

ISRO has been doing a fabulous job being a Govt organization is actually everyone needs to be proud of. While NASA gets about $17 billion, India gets $1 billion and yet ISRO has had a tremendous track record of putting satellites and space program to good use.

ISRO's future plans:

  1. ISRO plans to lauch Cartosat 2B which will enhance urban planning by getting clear cut images from satellite with extremely high resolution.
  2. ISRO plans to create Moon's environment in the labs to experiment the behaviour of rovers on Moon when Chandrayaan - 2 will be launched.
  3. Plans to launch GSLV which is the advanced rocket launching vehicle required for Chandrayaan-2 and further deep space exploration missions.
  4. Develop Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System <=> GPS of USA. So that we don't have to depend on GPS (which is owned by the US).
  5. Human space mission by 2015 for which recruitment has begun with a new training facility coming up in Bangalore.
  6. MISSION ADITYA: To study sun's corona and solar flares which destroy several satellites. This was one of the reasons why ISRO lost communication with Chandrayan-1.
  7. New satellite to power Satellite phones instead of depending on foreign satellites as of now.
So, let's hope for the best for ISRO and our country.

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