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AIR spotlight summary on Successful launch of Weather Satellite INSAT 3DR


AIR spotlight summary on Successful launch of Weather Satellite INSAT 3DR


  • ISRO successfully launched the country’s weather satellite INSAT-3DR, into a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO). The launch took place from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, the spaceport of India.
  • The operation of India’s heavier rocket GSLV Mark-2 equipped with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS) opens up more launch service revenue opportunity. ISRO is looking at various avenues to earn foreign exchange using this rocket.

India’s Rocket Technology

  • India started launching satellites by developing its indigenous launch vehicles since 1980. We successfully launched our satellite ROHINI by using SLV-3 rocket. Subsequently India had developed 2 launch systems namely ASLV and PSLV.
  • ASLV was used for specific launches however PSLV has emerged over the years as India’s reliable launch system. PSLV has got some limitation in terms of its launch mass. It can carry up to 2 tonne of satellite. Hence there was a need to develop Launch vehicles to carry heavier satellites. For that India started its GSLV programme.
  • India has made a significant progress in PSLV technology market. Till date India has launched 74 satellites for other players which include countries like USA.
  • There as various labs involved into this like labs in Sriharikota, Ahmadabad and there are few private industries associated with ISRO which are involved in development of technology and Satellites.
  • Aerospace Engineering is in a nascent stage in India. There are no essential agencies working on space other than ISRO. The opportunities are limited but they are increasing. Private industries are also motivated to enter into this field.

Importance of GSLV and INSAT-3DR Satellite

  • 2211 kg INSAT-3DR is the heaviest satellite to be launched from the Indian soil. This is required for the future because many communication satellites and weather satellites belong to a heavier category and ISRO wants to achieve a mark where it wants to launch satellites of 4 to 6 tonne weight into space.  
  • GSLV has got various stages and right now ISRO has operationalised GSLV Mark-2. This allows carrying satellites of 2.5 to 3 tonne varieties. Earlier India relied on French agency Ariane Space to launch satellites of more than 4 tonne weight.
  • By developing GSLV technology and launching these satellites on our own reduces the cost by 50% what ISRO pays to French agency Ariane Space.
  • GSLV-F05 carrying with it the INSAT-3DR weather satellite is the tenth flight of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)
  • INSAT-3DR has a Data Relay Transponder as well as a Search and Rescue Transponder to assist search and rescue operations of security agencies including all defence forces, the Coast Guard, and in shipping. The vehicle launch will be able to provide meteorological services and continue the INSAT-3D mission.
  • PSLV has 4 stages. First is the solid stage which uses a solid propellant. Next is a Liquid stage followed by solid and liquid stage. By using only solid and liquid propellants we cannot create more amount of thrust which is required to launch heavier satellites. Where as in GSLV first is a solid stage followed by a liquid stage and the third stage is a cryogenic stage. Cryogenic stage allows the satellite operators to launch heavier satellites with more amount of thrust.
  • INSAT-3DR is an advanced meteorological (weather observation) satellite built by India to provide a variety inputs essential for accurate weather forecasting. For this, it is equipped with three payloads (instruments), namely, a Multispectral Imager, Sounder and weather Data Relay Transponder.
  • INSAT-3DR also carries a satellite aided Search and Rescue Transponder that picks up and relays alert signals originating from distress beacons of maritime, aviation and land based users.
  • India’s capability in meteorological satellites focuses exclusively on weather and meteorology. India is an agriculture economy and weather related inputs are required based on satellite technology for the purposes of agriculture. Indian economy is based on fishery industry which requires weather related inputs.      
  • INSAT-3DR is the advanced version of our earlier satellites and the data obtained will be accurate than the earlier data captured by previous satellites. Sea surface temperature is also measured by the satellite. Sea surface temperature is required for the fishing industry which helps to find out better areas in the sea for catching fish. More accurate information helps the fishing industry.
  • It will help during low visibility periods and during night time also. Particularly during night time fog and low clouds usually come over the horizon and satellite systems are not able to monitor these because they do not have that type of a sensor capability. INSAT-3DR has got higher sensors which allow them to monitor fog and low visibility and low clouds. This will help agriculture and tourism industry.

Cryogenic technology

  • Cryogenics is low temperature physics. Cryogenic technology uses oxygen and hydrogen. These gases liquefy at -180 and -250 degree Celsius temperature. During early 1990s India was offered Cryogenic technology by Russian agencies. In those days India was under the sanctions regime and Missile Technology Control Regime never allowed Russians to transfer this technology to India.
  • India took some time to master Cryogenic technology, but now it has mastered Cryogenic technology. Even the two launches before INSAT-3DR used indigenous Cryogenic technology which was successful.

India’s future missions

  • Chandrayan-2 is a complex mission than Chandrayan-1. Chandrayan-1 was launched which was floating around the moon and observations were taken. Chandrayan-2 consists of a Rover and a Lander where the Robotic system will be put on the surface of the moon. This weighs more and requires a strong rocket.
  • In 2020 India intends to launch a second Mars mission in which GSLV rocket will be used.