The Indian Space Research Organisation’s attempt to launch its eighth navigation satellite on Thursday was unsuccessful. The IRNSS-1H, which weighs 1,425 kg, was carried by the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. Isro chairman AS Kiran Kumar said the mission failed because the PSLV’s heat shield did not open up for the satellite to be deployed.
“There was no problem in any of the stages,” Kumar said at a press conference, adding that Isro will analyse what went wrong. “The heat shield did not separate, due to which it was unable to get into orbit. The satellite got separated internally, but it is enclosed within the heat shield.”
The IRNSS-1H, launched at 7 pm from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, was meant to join the existing seven of the NavIC constellation to give India its own GPS services. The indigenous Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System is on par with the United States’ Global Positioning System, Russia’s Glonass and Europe’s Galileo.
The IRNSS-1H was built by a consortium of small and medium industries, led by defence equipment supplier Alpha Design Technologies, over eight months. Around 70 Isro scientists supervised the process.
The NavIC constellation comprises the IRNSS-1A, IRNSS-1B, IRNSS-1C, IRNSS-1D, IRNSS-1E, IRNSS-1F and IRNSS-1G navigation satellites. The NavIC system is meant to help fishermen catch better fish using satellite data of fish aggregation areas. It also informs them about bad weather or high tide and warns them from crossing international boundaries.
The IRNSS-1H satellite was meant to be a back up for the IRNSS-1A, whose rubidium atomic clocks, which provide navigational data and are crucial for GPS, had stopped functioning.