IRNSS-1I Navigation Satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)  launched the IRNSS-1I navigation satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. This the eighth such satellite to be a part of a constellation.

The PSLV-C41/IRNSS-1I mission blasted off at 4.04am from the first launch pad at the Sathish Dhawan Space Centre. It was a normal lift-off, ISRO officials said.

The first, IRNSS-1H, could not be put into space because of its failure in August last year.

IRNSS-1I is expected to replace IRNSS-1A, the first of the seven navigation satellites, that was rendered ineffective after its three rubidium atomic clocks failed. The seven satellites are part of the NavIC navigation satellite constellation.

What is IRNSS?

IRNSS stands for Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System. It is a set of satellites which together can provide India with a regional positioning system similar to the GPS. According to the ISRO website, the system is designed to give position accuracy better than 20 metres to users in its primary coverage area. It can also service regions extending up to 1500 km around India’s boundary. NavIC is the operational name for the IRNSS.

How many IRNSS satellites are up there now?

There are currently seven IRNSS satellites (1A to 1G) in orbit. A, B, F, G are placed in a geosynchronous orbit, which means they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth and they orbit along with the Earth. The remaining three, C, D, E, are located in geostationary orbit-they seem to be at a fixed location above the Earth along the equator and orbit along with the Earth.

The last IRNSS, 1H, which was launched on August 31, 2017, was unsuccessful as the satellite did not come out of its heat shield.

What are the applications of IRNSS?

These satellites help not just in land navigation but also in marine and aerial navigation. The data from these satellites can be used to give vehicle drivers visual and voice navigation assistance. They also help in disaster management and in proper time-keeping.

Which Other Countries / Space Agencies Have Similar Navigational Systems?

India’s (ISRO’s) NavIC joined the elite league of four countries/space agencies which have similar navigation capabilities. These include GPS (United States), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo (European Union), BeiDou (China). Japan is also planning a similar project with three of its own satellites. Japan’s system will be called the QZSS.

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