SRIHARIKOTA: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is now developing five additional high-tech navigation satellites with an emphasis on addressing the needs of the country’s strategic sector. As a result, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System, or NavIC, will shortly be enlarged.
More significantly, the new satellites will include an atomic clock made in the country out of rubidium. “One of the four atomic clocks onboard the first navigation satellite to be launched next month or by the end of this fiscal year would be a desi one,” ISRO Chairman S. Somanath said to this newspaper.
The atomic clocks were created by Ahmedabad’s Space Application Centre of ISRO. The importance of these clocks makes this a crucial milestone for measuring precision location data.
At least seven satellites — three in geostationary and four in geosynchronous orbits — must be active for NavIC to be completely functioning and deliver precise real-time positioning and timing services. Another two will serve as backup satellites.
India successfully launched eight navigation satellites between 2013 and 2018, albeit some of them are currently inoperable due to purported atomic clock malfunctions. “NavIC is still operating, and services are being offered with a small number of satellites,” Somanath added. The construction of five new navigation satellites has been given the go-ahead. One is almost complete.
The development of these atomic clocks occurred under the direction of Tapan Misra, a former director of SAC said, “Atomic clocks are critical to measure the distance between satellite and the object on the ground. India is among the few nations to have developed this technology.”
After the US declined to disclose GPS data that would have revealed crucial information about the whereabouts of Pakistani troops during the Kargil War, India made the decision to develop its own navigation system in 1999. The result of two decades of development was NavIC. The ISRO is preparing for a busy schedule as well, with numerous launches of the PSLV, GSLV, and SSLV planned.