The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) plans to undertake 10 space missions in 2013, including its first Mars orbiter.
“Of these, eight missions will be launched by September 2013 and the remaining by year-end,” says V. Narayanasamy, a junior minister in the prime minister’s office, which is in charge of space administration.
The missions will include the launching of three Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles, a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle, two communication satellites, an ocean observation satellite, a meteorological satellite, a navigation satellite and the Mars orbiter, Narayanasamy says.
ISRO also has initiated studies on near-Earth objects and deflection strategies for near-Earth asteroids.
The space agency plans to undertake 58 missions over the next five years spanning communication satellites, remote-sensing satellites for Earth observation and space applications.
ISRO has shelved its plans to launch a manned Moon mission. “There are no plans to put an astronaut on the Moon, as of now,” Narayanasamy says. The space agency also has “no plans in the immediate future” to launch space labs and manned spaceships, or to set up space stations, he adds.
ISRO had proposed to carry out India’s first manned Moon mission by 2020, following the success of Chandrayaan-I in 2008. But the space agency said this year that its first human spaceflight would be delayed due to the lack of requisite technologies and capabilities.
“Though we have identified critical technologies for such an ambitious project, we have to build the capabilities for undertaking such a challenging mission,” ISRO Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said in September.
Meanwhile, ISRO has awarded French infrared sensor manufacturer Sofradir a 2.5-year contract to develop large-format IR detector prototypes and flight models. The contract’s value was not disclosed.
The agreement with ISRO’s Space Applications Center in Ahmedabad will see Paris-based Sofradir deliver flight models of the company’s large-format 1000x256 Saturn ShortWave InfraRed (SWIR) detectors to support India’s hyperspectral Earth observation satellite program.
Sofradir has a more than a 25% share by volume for supplying second-generation mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) IR sensors used in thermal imagers, missile seekers, infantry fighting vehicles and other surveillance, targeting and homing infrared equipment, as well as Earth-observation satellites. In the last four years, Sofradir has delivered 10 Saturn SWIR flight models to aerospace companies.
The contract is Sofradir’s first for flight models with the Space Applications Center, company chairman and CEO Philippe Bensussan said in a news release. The deal is the culmination of years of close cooperation with ISRO that included delivering IR detectors for ground testing, he said.