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Friday, April 4, 2014

With New Satellite In Space, India To Get 'Desi GPS'

As reported by NDTV India today successfully launched its second navigation satellite, sometimes dubbed the 'desi GPS', through its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV. The satellite navigation system is a fleet of seven satellites that will help provide precise locations within 20 meters. 

"PSLV, in its 25th successive successful flight, injected IRNSS-1B very precisely. I thank the entire ISRO team that made this major milestone for the country, thus proving again that India's PSLV has a place of pride," a beaming ISRO Chairman K Radhakrishnan announced.

The 44 meter, 320 ton rocket lifted off at 5.14 PM from Sriharikota and 'precisely' placed India's second navigation satellite in space. 

Till now most of us have relied on the American GPS or the Global Positioning System, very popular on smart phones but not good enough for military applications as it can't be relied upon for seamless coverage in times of war and the built-in error makes it unsuitable for precision strikes. 

India has become the sixth nation to embark on this after America, Russia, Europe, China and Japan. Some may ask, if this satellite navigation system by India were working would it have been possible to locate the lost Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Unfortunately the answer is no. 

The satellites continuously beam down data that can be read by special hand held instruments which, when calibrated using sensors based on the ground, can help pin point location. 

India's satellite system is designed to cover a region of about 1500 km on either side of the border, essentially covering the geographical region from where India has a perception of threat, both Pakistan and China are within the footprint. 

Today in its 26 flight India's workhorse rocket the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle or PSLV is hoping to hoist a 1432 kilogram special satellite that carries on it a precision clock called an atomic clock and a set of other home-made instruments that beam down accurate time and location data. The entire fleet of seven satellites is likely to be ready by 2016 when Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System will become operational. The first Indian navigation satellite launched last year in July is working normally.

The term 'desi' is Sanskrit for the people, cultures, and products of the Indian subcontinent or for South Asia.  Desi nations include India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Maldives.