Within two weeks of a failed mission, the countdown at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has kicked off for the launch of PSLV vehicle on Thursday, carrying IRNSS-1I which is a backup satellite replacing the NavIC navigation satellite constellation.

The ISRO is all set to launch a new navigation satellite IRNSS-1I (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) in space via the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle C-41 (PSLV C-41) rocket on Thursday, April 12 from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Odisha. The 32-hour countdown clock is already ticking off for the launch of the eighth navigation satellite in the NavIC constellation. After launch, IRNSS-1I will replace the IRNSS-1A which was the first of all seven satellites but was found to be ineffective after three rubidium atomic clocks failed.

The launch is significant because it will be ISRO’s second attempt to replacement satellite after PSLV carrying IRNSS-1H failed when heat shield covering of the satellite didn’t separate, back in August 2017. A successful launch of IRNSS-1I will prove to be important after the previous GSAT 6A satellite was lost despite a successful take-off just two weeks earlier. Expectations are high from the upcoming launch of IRNSS-1I will be carried out by the trusted PSLV-C41, which will carry out its 43rd flight in the XL configuration. After the launch, PSLV will put the IRNSS-1I into the orbit within 19 minutes and 19 seconds after lift-off. The navigation satellite will be placed in the sub-geosynchronous transfer orbit and at its closest point will be 284 km above the Earth and at its farthest will be 20,650 km above the Earth

The IRNSS is a series of satellites which will provide India its very own swadeshi (indigenous) GPS system and will make India independent of the US’ GPS. Having its own GPS system will specifically help the Indian army in monitoring its territory using its own satellite-based navigation system. With the launch of the IRNSS 1I now imminent, ISRO has further sought to counter the CAG’s criticism by saying that the satellite has been fabricated by the private sector. And successful placement of IRNSS-1I will mean that India will have the minimum number of operational satellites which will provide fail-free navigation signals, not just for military but also for civilian usage.

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