PSLV-C16 ready for lift-off on April 20

So, this ISRO press release was posted on the web on April 17, 2011 which stated that the Launch Authorisation Board has given the green signal to the scientists and engineers to proceed with the launch on April 20, 2011. As per press reports, this Launch Authorisation Board is a bunch of people who come and inspect the launch vehicle and spacecrafts and ensure everything looks okay and then give the thumbs up.

Thence, engineers and scientists spring into action and in ISRO’s words –

During the Count Down, propellant-filling operations of the liquid propellant second stage (PS2) and fourth stage (PS4) of the launch vehicle will be carried out. Mandatory checks on the launch vehicle and spacecraft – including charging of batteries and pressurisation of propellant tanks will be performed. Readiness of launch infrastructure such as tracking radar systems and communication networks will also be checked.

The countdown, does not start at 15 seconds before the lift-off. It actually starts 54 hours before lift-off and that is when all the things described above takes place. So, the lift off will begin around 4 am (IST) on April 18, 2011.

ISRO scientists and engineers have been a worried lot. Two of their rockets have fallen into the Bay of Bengal and their top brass have been embroiled in a “scam” that it has never witnessed before. Word is that ISRO is taking extra precautions on this one. Some are even saying that ISRO is in a mess. The PSLV has so far had a great track record and they are pinning their expectations on this vehicle to mark the turning point in its fortunes in the past few months. Whatever others might say, I believe that ISRO engineers will give it their best shot.

ISRO has not written or aggregated information about the various satellites in one place and I thought I could do that here and use it as a reference, just in case. So, first we look at our main payload – Resourcesat-2:

RESOURCESAT-2 is a follow on mission to RESOURCESAT-1 to provide data continuity to Indian and global users. It carries three optical Remote sensing payloads, LISS-3, LISS-4 & AWIFS. It also carries additional AO payload known as AIS (Automatic Information System) from COMDEV, Canada as an experimental payload for ship surveillance in VHF band to derive position, speed and other information of ships. Compared to RESOURCESAT-1, LISS-4 multi-spectral swath has been enhanced from 23 km to 70 km based on user needs. Suitable changes including miniaturisation in payload electronics have been incorporated in RESOURCESAT-2. The satellite is slated for launch during first quarter of 2011.

Then we look at the Indo-Russian collaboration, YOUTHSAT:
In recent years, it has been realised that there is a need to develop a comprehensive understanding of the complex processes of the ionosphere-thermosphere system including its response to the various external forces such as solar radiation during active space weather conditions so as to reach a level of predictive capability. One of the most important aspects still to be understood is the temporal and spatial variability in electron density distribution over the low and equatorial latitudes, and the role of certain large scale neutral and plasma processes therein. To address these issues related to the cause, i.e. solar variability and effect, thermosphere-ionosphere changes, an Indo Russian satellite mission ‘YOUTHSAT’ is planned, which is scheduled to be launched in the first quarter of 2011.Apart from the Russian payload SOLRAD for monitoring the solar X- and g rays fluxes, two Indian payloads: a dual frequency beacon payload for ionospheric tomography named RaBIT (Radio Beacon for Ionospheric Tomography) and an airglow imaging payload namely LiVHySI (Limb Viewing Hyper Spectral Imager), will be onboard this satellite. These two Indian payloads have been developed and undergoing different stages of tests and evaluations at VSSC/SAC/ISAC respectively.For the RaBIT experiment, the already existing CRABEX ground network to receive the beacon signals will be extended to stations located in Russia in the polar latitudes. This would make this receiver chain to be the longest in the world, enabling development of ionospheric tomograms spanning equator to the North Pole.Through the LiVHySI experiment, simultaneous altitudinal profiles of a range of airglow emissions (Hyper Spectral) emanating from the atmosphere between 80-600km altitudes and their spatial distribution across the globe will be obtained. These profiles, in conjunction with the tomograms and solar flux measurements, will help us in understanding and quantifying various chemical, neutral and electro-dynamical processes prevalent in the ionosphere-thermosphere system. 

The last one is on the Singaporean XSat-1:

This is a developmental project undertaken by CREST (Centre For Research in Satellite Technologies) with partners such as CRISP (Centre for Remote Imaging, Sensing and Processing, NUS), and overseas collaborators (SaTReCi, ISRO, DLR, DTU etc.).


The XSAT project objectives are:
(1) To develop a low cost micro-satellite bus capable of performing remote sensing operation in near real-time scenarios
(2) To build-up in country capability (resources and facilities) in satellite engineering
(3) To promote academic interest for R&D in this areaThe two bits about RESOURCESAT-2 and YOUTHSAT are from the ISRO Annual Report 2010-11 and the information on XSat-1 is from here.

Best of luck, team ISRO!

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