India is making headway toward launching Astrosat, the country’s first satellite devoted to astronomy, which will look at the universe in X-ray, ultraviolet and visible light bands, a senior space scientist says.
Astrosat, a multi-wave-length observatory in space, will be launched with six instruments aboard India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan says.
“It is getting ready now,” Radhakrishnan says. “It will be integrated by 2015.”
The six pieces of equipment that will be used on board Astrosat are being built by the Mumbai-based Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, based in Bengaluru.
Data collected by the six instruments will help scientists to better understand the workings of the cosmos.
The idea for India to develop a satellite for astronomy first originated in the late 1990s. The success of the Indian X-Ray Astronomy Experiment, an instrument carried on a remote-sensing satellite launched in 1996, gave impetus to a more ambitious effort.
In 2004, the government cleared the Astrosat project, with a proposal to launch the satellite in about four years. But its launch has been delayed by nearly six years.
India already has satellites to study weather, the environment and water security and to help with communications. In April 2012, RISAT-1, the first indigenously built, all-weather, radar-imaging satellite was launched, opening up access to the microwave remote-sensing system.
In April, ISRO is hoping to conduct a trial-lift of the heaviest variant of its GSLV, the Mk. 3. The rocket will carry a human crew module into space to determine if it is capable of safely re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.
“We are moving toward enhanced launch capability through the GSLV Mk. 3, and even higher-powered launch vehicles in the years to come,” Radhakrishnan says.