It has been an exceptional year for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), with two impressive launches. First in February- startling record of maximum satellites i.e. 104 induced into Earth’s orbit in a single launch, a tremendous leap from past record of 37. Second in June- first successful launch of India’s most powerful and heaviest rocket, GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) Mark III, which was developed at home entirely with patient work of over 15 years.
Antrix- Becoming a Contender in the Global Space Industry
Beyond usual registers of scientific progress, national pride and ingenuity evoked by space programmes, these launches marked strict business-oriented milestone. Announcing ISRO’s fledgling commercial arm, Antrix Corp Ltd. of becoming serious contender in the US$ 335.5 Bn global space industry, and forming part of new space race pegged to take-off. Chairman and managing director of Antrix- Rakesh Sasibhushan states the growth of space to be mind-boggling in next five years, altering the way of doing things and kind of technology capable of being implemented in space.
New investment worth billions of dollars have been poured in to tag new projects with old roots, offering high-speed satellite internet connections to blanket the globe. ISRO and Antrix are likely to benefit on the back of their unique positions, as the project’s nature involves placement of numerous small satellites in LEO- Low Earth Orbit. This is implemented well by ISRO’s most successful rocket- PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). Sasibhushan states that Antrix is experiencing an unprecedented transition period owing to growing global market. The new space race requires a lot of rockets.
Latency Incurs Challenges in Using Communication Satellite in Geosynchronous Orbits for Internet
Majority of world’s internet operates through terrestrial connections. The restriction in utilisation of communication satellites in geosynchronous orbits for internet is primarily attributed to “latency”- time lag introduced by satellite signals while travelling back and forth. Nearly 230 milliseconds is required for a radio wave to reach geosynchronous orbits and travel back. However terrestrial network have limitations. In spite of tremendous demand for connectivity, users of internet are yet clustered in urban areas, as these are the areas where cables reach.
India was an insignificant entity in space business so far, with around 80% revenue amassed from heavy satellite launches in geosynchronous orbits. Even after successful launch of GSLV Mark III, a rocket powerful enough to do so is not yet possessed by India. The country almost relies on Arianespace for launching its heavy satellites. However, PSLV has gradually built a reputation for India in terms of reliability in the recent past, helping other countries to launch couple of small satellites.