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12 Missions, 12 Months - ISRO's Mega Plan For 2018 Revealed. Details Here

2018 is proving to be a very busy year for India's space agency ISRO, with a mission planned for each month. The Indian Space Research Organisation has already launched 3 important satellites between January 1 and April 12. These include remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 on board the PSLV-C40 rocket in January, communication satellite GSAT-6A on board GSLV-F08 rocket on March 29, and navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on board the PSLV-C41 rocket on April 12. "In the next eight months, ISRO has nine more important missions planned," ISRO Chairman K Sivan told reporters at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh's Sriharikota last week. This means ISRO will average one mission every month for the year 2018 - which would be a remarkable achievement.


Expected to be the biggest mission of all this year, Chandrayaan-2 will be India's second mission to the moon. It will be a totally indigenous mission, which means it will be a 100 per cent 'made in India' mission. Unlike Chandrayaan-1, which only had a lunar orbiter, Chandrayaan-2 will have an orbiter, a lander and a rover. According to ISRO's plan, after reaching the 100 km lunar orbit, the 'lander' housing the 'rover' will separate from the 'orbiter'. After a controlled descent, the lander will soft land on the Moon's surface at a specified site and deploy the rover. The rover, which will be six-wheeled, will move around the landing site in semi-autonomous mode as decided by the ground commands. The instruments on the rover will observe the lunar surface and send back data, which will be useful for analysis of the Moon's soil.

The orbiter of Chandrayaan-2 will weigh around 3,290 kg and will orbit around the moon to perform the objectives of remote sensing the moon. The payloads will collect scientific information on lunar topography, mineralogy, elemental abundance, lunar exosphere and signatures of hydroxyl and water-ice.

The Chandrayaan-2 mission will be launched on board the GSLV-F10 rocket, and is planned for the second half of 2018 (Aimed for October). The GSLV or Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV Mk II) is the largest launch vehicle developed by India, which is currently in operation. This fourth generation launch vehicle is a three stage vehicle with four liquid strap-ons. The indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS), which is flight proven, forms the third stage of GSLV Mk II.


As explained by ISRO, the GSAT-11 is a multi beam high throughput communication satellite operating in Ka and Ku-bands employing a new bus. It provides 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 gateway beams in Ka-band. The payload includes Ka x Ku-band forward link transponders and Ku x Ka band return link transponders.

The GSAT-11 satellite is planned to be launched by Ariane from Kourou, French Guiana in first half of 2018 (Aimed for June). India's GSAT satellites are indigenously developed communication satellites which are used for digital audio and video broadcasting. The GSAT satellites are geosynchronous satellites - having a geosynchronous orbit, which means they have an orbital period the same as the Earth's rotation period. The GSAT series of satellites have been developed by ISRO with an aim to make India 100 per cent self-reliant in broadcasting services.

C-band, Extended C-band and Ku-bands provide services for telecommunications, television broadcasting, weather forecasting, disaster warning and search and rescue operations.

ISRO chairman K Sivan confirmed that the GSAT-11 will be the "heaviest satellite" ever made by ISRO. Though he did not specify the exact weight, he confirmed that it will be in excess of 5.7 tonnes (more than 5,100 kg).


GSAT-29, which too is a GSAT series satellite as explained above, is configured around ISRO's Enhanced I-3K Bus and will be the payload for second developmental flight of GSLV-MkIII. It carries Ka x Ku multi-beam and optical communication payloads for the first time. The mission targets for Village Resource Centres (VRC) in rural areas to bridge the digital divide.

The GSLV-MkIII-D2/GSAT-29 Mission is scheduled to be launched during the first half of 2018. The satellite will weigh around 3,500 kg. "The GSLV-Mk3-D2, will launch the GSAT-29. We are going to have a host of GSLV missions like DigiSat and high resolution remote sensing satellites," ISRO Chairman K Sivan confirmed.


According to news agency PTI, ISRO Chairman K Sivan has confirmed the launch of the GSAT-7A mission this year. "We have another GSLV mission, which is going to have GSAT-7A," he said.

The GSAT-7A satellite is an advanced military communications satellite. It will be dedicated for the sole use of the Indian Air Force. It is similar to the GSAT-7 which is currently being used exclusively by the Indian Navy. The Navy's GSAT-7 is a multi-band communication spacecraft, which has been operational since September 2013. The GSAT-7 satellite helps enable the Indian Navy to extend its blue water capabilities and stop relying on foreign satellites like Inmarsat, which provide communication services to its ships. Similarly, the GSAT-7A satellite will help the Indian Air Force spread its wings further.

GSAT-7A will enable the Indian Air Force to interlink different ground radar stations, ground airbase and Airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft. The GSAT-7A satellite will enhance the Indian Air Force's network-centric warfare capabilities and enhance its global operations.

GSAT-7A is expected to be launched in the second half of 2018 and will be launched on board the Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. The GSAT-7A satellite will be put into a geosynchronous orbit.


RISAT or Radar Imaging SATellite (RISAT-1A) will be a remote sensing satellite that is similar in configuration to RISAT-1. It will be the third satellite in the RISAT series. RISAT-1, which was the second in the series, uses C-band 5.35 GHz synthetic aperture radar for earth observation.

Because of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks the RISAT-2 satellite took priority over the RISAT-1 satellite. RISAT-2 carried an Israeli-built X-band radar. This is how RISAT-2 became the first in the series and RISAT-1 became the second.

The RISAT-1 satellite has a purpose of monitoring natural resources management, primarily agriculture planning and forestry surveys, as well as to predict and prevent flooding. It helps monitor paddy plantations and yields in the kharif season and to assists in food security planning.

The latest in the series - RISAT-1A - will primarily be a land-based mission and will be used for terrain mapping. It will also be used for land analysis. Though analysis of land will be its primary focus, it will also analyse the ocean and water surface. It will also monitor the moisture in the soil across the country and will greatly benefit for agricultural purposes.

RISAT-1A satellite will carry a 'synthetic aperture radar' which will operate at 5.35 GHz in C-band. A synthetic aperture radar or SAR can be used for earth observation irrespective of the light and weather conditions of the area being imaged. RISAT-1A will be launch on board the PSLV or Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. It will weigh around 1,850 kgs.


India launched 3 important missions between January and April 2018. These include remote sensing satellite Cartosat-2 on board the PSLV-C40 rocket in January, communication satellite GSAT-6A on board GSLV-F08 rocket on March 29, and navigation satellite IRNSS-1I on board the PSLV-C41 rocket on April 12.

Calling it one of the busiest years for the ISRO, chairman K Sivan said scientists are excited and determined to achieve the targets. After three launches in the first four months, "We have a lot more missions on the anvil. In the next eight months, we are going to have nine missions. We are going to have both GSLV and PSLV missions. Along with that (launches) we have technology demonstration for future missions as well," he said.

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