ISRO prepares for three rocket launches after pandemic hiatus
After months of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing up to take the skies with three rocket launches in the next few months. According to an ISRO senior official, the space agency is preparing three rockets for launch at its Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC-Shar) in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. These three rockets, including one Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV), and two Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV C49 and PSLV C50) will be carrying several domestic and foreign satellites in the space.
In addition, a Virtual Launch Control Centre has been established by the space agency at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) in Thiruvananthapuram in order to remotely test the rocket systems being developed at ISRO’s Sriharikota rocket port. Amid the pandemic crisis, ISRO decided to limit the number of people travelling to Sriharikota for the launch. As a result of which, the decision to develop a Virtual Launch Control Centre at VSSC was taken to remotely test the operations of these rocket systems amid the prevailing threat of the pandemic.
Speaking to IANS, VSSC Director S. Somanath said that the first rocket to fly will be the PSLV C49 in the first half of November with about 10 satellites. He added that the PSLV will be carry India’s RISAT-2BR2 and some other commercial satellites as it will lift from the first launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
As per media reports, the PSLV-C49 mission will also carry four-satellite Kleos Scouting Mission onboard during its launch next month. As per a statement by the Luxembourg-based Kleos Space company, the launch is managed by ISRO’s commercial institute NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) in collaboration with US-based Spaceflight Inc.
PSLV C50 will be the second rocket to fly into space sometime in December 2020 as it will need about 30 days to get ready for another launch after the first one. It will be followed by the launch of GSLV rocket, carrying the GISAT-1 satellite.
It was on December 11, 2019, when the last ISRO mission was executed from India with PSLV-C48 carrying the “spy” satellite RISAT-2BR1 into space. While the mission to launch GSLV-F10 (carrying the GISAT-1 satellite) was scheduled to take place on March 5, it had to be postponed due to technical issues.
Later, pandemic outbreak halted several operations of ISRO after more than 100 infections were reported from within the spaceport. It was temporarily shut down to contain the spread of the pandemic. With the reopening of economic activities across the country, ISRO operations are also being gradually restored.
S. Somanath reportedly said that the GSLV rocket was dismantled after the launch was called off. Now, the rocket is being refurbished and it is being readied again for the launch in the coming months, the VSSC Director added.