A rocket carrying India’s second navigation satellite, IRNSS-1B, has lifted off successfully, taking the country closer to developing its own indigenous air navigation system.
 
The second of the seven satellites that eventually will constitute the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) was lofted aboard a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C24), India’s indigenously built workhorse, from the Sriharikota spaceport in south India at 5:14 p.m. local time on April 4, a scientist at the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) says.
 
The satellite, weighing 1,432 kg (3,157 lb.) was launched aboard PSLV’s XL version, as was the case for the launch of IRNSS-1A—the first satellite in the IRNSS series—last July. IRNSS-1A has already started functioning from its designated orbital slot, after extensive in-orbit testing and evaluation to confirm it was performing as expected.
 
The PSLV-C24 injected the IRNSS-1B into a preliminary orbit, eventually placing it into a sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit (sub-GTO), an elliptical orbit with an inclination of 19.2 deg.
 
With this launch, India has moved closer to a select group of nations that have such a space-based navigation system. “The PSLV, in its 25th successive successful flight, very precisely injected the second regional navigation satellite... This proves again that India’s PSLV has a place of pride,” says ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan.
 
Two more navigation satellites are slated to be launched during the second half of 2014.
 
“By 2014 we will launch two more navigational satellites—IRNSS-1C and IRNSS-1D. Three more navigational satellites will be launched in early 2015. By the middle of 2015, India will have all the navigational satellite system [in place]” he adds.
 
The ISRO team will be coming to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) again in June to launch the country’s heavier rocket, the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk. 3).
 
The “XL” configuration allows a higher payload and can inject satellites into higher orbits. The version was used earlier for critical missions like Chandrayaan-1, the Mars Orbiter Mission and IRNSS-1A.
 
IRNSS is an independent regional navigation satellite system being developed at India’s satellite center in the south Indian city of Bengaluru. The IRNSS-1B navigation satellite is designed to extend civilian and military applications by providing accurate positioning information service to users in India as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km (932 mi.) from its boundaries.
 
President Pranab Mukherjee says the launch is “an important landmark in our space program and demonstrates, yet again, India’s capabilities in space launch technology.”
 
“The nation will immensely benefit from the applications of IRNSS which include terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management, vehicle tracking and fleet management,” he says.
 
Other applications for IRNSS includes integration with mobile phones; precise timing, mapping and geodetic data capture; direction capability for travelers, and visual and navigation aids for drivers.
 
IRNSS will provide two types of services, including Standard Positioning Service (SPS), which is provided to all users, and restricted service that is provided to official users. The system is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 meters (65 ft.) in the primary service area.