Chennai: Trying to make up for lost time due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Indian space agency is gearing up for three quick rocket launches carrying domestic and foreign satellites, said a senior official.
The Indian space agency has also developed a Virtual Launch Control Centre to test the rocket systems at the rocket port in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh remotely from the Thiruvananthapuram based Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), part of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), he added.
"With Covid-19 pandemic prevailing, the Indian space agency in order to reduce the number of people travelling to Sriharikota, has developed a Virtual Launch Control Centre at VSSC. As a result, the testing of various rocket systems is being done at VSSC," S. Somanath, Director, VSSC, told IANS.
The physical launch control centre is located in the building that houses the Mission Control Centre in Sriharikota and the systems there have been replicated at VSSC in the form of a virtual launch control centre.
"Three rockets are getting ready for launch at the rocket port in Sriharikota viz Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C49 (PSLV C49), PSLV C50 and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV). The first rocket to fly will be the PSLV C49 sometime next month with about 10 satellites. It will be carrying India's RISAT-2BR2 and other commercial satellites lifting off from the first launch pad," Somanath said.
The next one to fly will be PSLV C50 with the GSAT-12R satellite. The rocket is being assembled at Sriharikota with various systems coming from different centres. It will fly from the second launch pad, he added.
"We are targeting PSLV C50 sometime in December. It needs about 30 days to get ready for another launch after one launch," he said.
Presently four Indian satellites are ready for launch viz GISAT, Microsat-2A, GSAT-12R and, RISAT-2BR2.
The launch of the GISAT-1 satellite slated for March 5, 2020 was postponed due to technical reasons a day before the launch.
"The GISAT-1 satellite will be carried by a GSLV rocket. The GSLV rocket was dismantled after the launch was called off. The rocket is being refurbished. The rocket's cryogenic engine has been brought down and it is being readied again," Somanath said.
According to him, the GSLV carrying GISAT-1 is expected to fly after PSLV C50.
When queried about other countries launching satellites even during the Covid-19 pandemic period, Somanath said they could be having the entire manufacturing set up under one roof or at nearby places.
In the case of India, the ISRO centres making different components for the rocket and made at different centres and logistics was an issue during the Covid-19 period.