Giant step into big league

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India on Monday (July 1) joined an exclusive band of countries having their own navigation systems with the launch of the IRNSS-1A satellite which was put in orbit by the PSLV-C22 about 20 minutes after it blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota .

Precisely at 11.41 pm, India's workhorse Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) lifted off in a perfect text book launch, carrying IRNSS-1A, painting a dense golden flame in the dark canvas of the sky.

Developed by India, IRNSS-1A, with a life of ten years, is an independent regional navigation satellite system designed to provide accurate position information service to users in the country as well as the region extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary,which is its primary service area.

An elated ISRO chairman K Radhakrishnan said the IRNSS-1A satellite was precisely injected into its intended orbit.

"This only proves that PSLV is an extremely reliable vehicle and with this flight, we are also entering into a new era of space application in the country that is the beginning of satellite navigation programme."

With ISRO scientists breaking into celebrations, Radhakrishnan said, "I am extremely happy to announce that we had another excellent flight of our PSLV vehicle. This is the 23rd successive successful flight of PSLV and the fourth successful flight of extended version of PSLV."

IRNSS will be on lines with Russia's Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), United States' Global Positioning System (GPS), European Union's Galileo (GNSS), China's BeiDou satellite navigation system and the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System.

Earlier, a glitch in one of the electro-hydraulic control actuators in the second stage of PSLV-C22 had forced ISRO to postpone the launch of IRNSS-1A on June 12 by a fortnight.

It was rescheduled for July 1 after the anomaly was rectified.

Having a lift-off mass of 1,425 kg, the satellite was launched into a sub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit with a 284 km perigee (nearest point to Earth) and 20,650 km apogee (farthest point from the Earth) with an inclination of 17.86 degree with respect to the equatorial plane.

It is the first of the seven satellites, constituting the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) space segment with three satellites in geostationary orbit and four satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit.

IRNSS applications include mapping and geodetic data capture, precise timing, visual and voice navigation for drivers, integration with mobile phones and terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers.

On the late night launch operation by ISRO for the first time, and ISRO official had said, "The timing of the launch is determined by the orbital parameter and the inclination. The requirements for IRNSS-1A needed a mid-night launch."

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