India’s TeamIndus Contends for $20-Million Lunar XPrize

Limiting state investment to 10%, Google’s Lunar XPrize aims to encourage private investment in space technology and development of low-cost systems for space exploration. Bangalore-based startup TeamIndus, the only Indian team in the Google Lunar XPRIZE competition, is building a privately funded Spacecraft capable of soft landing on the Moon by 2017. TeamIndus was one of five teams selected to compete in the Milestone prizes and successfully won $1M as a Milestone prize for its landing technology, last year, reports Tech Crunch.

Funded by over a dozen high net worth individuals, and supported by private companies such as Larsen & Toubro and Tata Communications, TeamIndus will book a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’s launch slot with the Indian Space and Research Organization.

Logo of TeamIndus

“TeamIndus’ mission is a celebration of all things great about India – the audacious goal, the young bright engineers, the can-do entrepreneurial spirit, partners who commit their resources, and the new breed of world-class entrepreneurs who have supported our mission – all of whom are united by a vision to deliver a best-in-class technology outcome entirely out of India,” declares the company website.

Rahul Narayan, founder of Axiom Research Labs and head of TeamIndus, says, “Our long-term vision is to become a deep-tech aerospace company which solves system level problems. GLXP is the first marquee manifestation of the kinds of problems we’d like to solve,” reports Outlook Business.

December 2, 2016   No Comments

ISRO Places 8 Satellites in Two Different Orbits

India’s Space Research Organization has successfully launched 8 satellites in two different orbits in a first ever payload launch of the kind.

Mashable reports that the entire mission took 25 days since the team experienced many unprecedented  challenges.  The Polar Satellite Launch VehicleC35 had to be re-ignited a second time after its first placement, since the satellites had to be injected into two different orbits.

PSLV - 35C

The SCATSAT-1, weighing 818 pounds, was one of the eight satellites to be launched. It is designed to study weather and can last in space for as many as five years. The other seven include two developed by Indian universities —PES University in Bangalore, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay — 3 from Algeria and one each from the U.S. and Canada.

September 28, 2016   No Comments

India Launches Advanced Weather Satellite

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) successfully launched its advanced weather satellite INSAT-3DR using its GSLV-F05 from the spaceport of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The cryogenic engine used in the satellite was made in India.

GSLV-F05 being moved to launchpad

GSLV-F05 being moved to launchpad

This advanced meteorological satellite is configured with an imaging system, an atmospheric sounder, data relay as well as search and rescue transponders.

Other features include:

  • Imaging in middle infrared band to provide night time pictures of low clouds and fog
  • Imaging in two thermal infrared bands for estimation of sea surface temperature with better accuracy
  • Higher spatial resolution in the visible and thermal infrared band

Earlier launches using this technology—GSLV-D5 and GSLV -D6—were a success. The GSLV class of satellites also includes EDUSAT, which is used for distance education and other academic purposes, reports Mint.

September 19, 2016   No Comments

India Tests Air-Breathing Propulsion Technology For Space Launch

India’s Space Research Organization (ISRO) conducted a successful experiment to demonstrate supersonic combustion using atmospheric oxygen on Sunday, August 28. It was the maiden experiment of ISRO’s Dual Mode Ramjet (DMRJ) engine, which uses hydrogen as fuel and air from the atmosphere as the oxidizer, at hypersonic conditions, and was an important step toward developing reusable launch vehicles to reduce the costs of future space missions, reports Business Standard.

The mission used the RH-560 rocket fitted with a supersonic combustion ramjet (Scramjet) engine, and it was launched at India’s rocket port located at Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota in the eastern state of Andhra Pradesh.

The Vikram Sarabhai Space Center at Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the southern state of Kerala, developed the engines to be used in the RH-560 rocket, reports Defense World.


Launch Pad

The technology demonstration of hypersonic air breathing dual ramjet engines will lead to the design and development capability of advanced air breathing engines, including engines with variable geometry air intake for future space transportation systems.

August 27, 2016   No Comments

House Committee Seeks Details on India’s Launch Services

U.S. Congressman Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and Rep. Brian Babin, chairman of its space subcommittee, sent letters to Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Director of Office of Science and Technology Policy John Holdren asking about policies regarding the launch of U.S.-built satellites on India Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles, and how these were developed, reports SpaceNews.

“The administration has provided a number of export waivers on a case-by-case basis for these launches, in part because India is becoming a strategic ally in South Asia,” Babin said at an April 19 hearing of his subcommittee on issues associated with small launch vehicles.

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV)

The issue of using PSLVs in India rose because satellite manufacturers in the U.S.are making satellites at a quicker rate than their launch capability. Eric Stallmer, president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, said at the April hearing. “The PSLV has a sweet spot and the capability to launch some of these satellites in a timely manner.” While Stallmer opposed any policy change that would provide easier access to PSLV, he added that government waivers on a case-by-case basis for Indian launches is acceptable as “a temporary solution”.


July 15, 2016   No Comments