Mars Orbiter Mission – Modesty will help us more

By tomorrow same time, Mangalyaan should have entered the orbit around the Red Planet, Mars. Accomplishing this feat, we will be the fourth space agency; humbly following US [NASA], Soviet Union and ESA. We will also become the first in Asia, after failed attempts by China and Japan.

Let us resolve to enjoy this success with utmost modesty. The seven odd unsuccessful attempts of Mars Exploration made by the Soviet Union, the first attempt failure by NASA, China and Japan, must have sure been great learning lessons for Team ISRO. We are at the verge of success, but, we are far from glory and ground breaking research. Low Cost is not necessarily congruent to state of the art technology!

A lot of new papers are misquoting Mangalyaan to be at the verge of becoming the first successful Mars Mission in the first attempt. It’s not true. European Space Agency, in the very first attempt, was successful in accomplishing the orbiter mission, which is still operational. However, in the follow-up to the mission, their lander crashed. US has not only been successful with multiple orbiter missions, but, also with lander and rover missions. The reason I am bringing up this point is not to tone down the impact of our soon- to- be success, but, to be equally conscious and respectful of the pioneer attempts in the field.

Mars Orbiter Mission is not the first scientific mission to Mars, then, what makes it the center of attraction for the world? This low cost mission cost India approx $72 Millions, which is apparently lesser than the budget for the movie Gravity, as quoted by PM Narendra Modi.  MOM was prepared for launch in the fastest time and with the least monetary investment. Indeed, a rare feat. But, think for a moment, we are talking about a billion dollar space industry.  Are we tapping out enough from that billion dollar industry with a low cost project? Are we not compromising, clearly? Do you think we are we ready to fail? Did we not make the project low cost, so that, it was more affordable to fail? Think patiently.

I know that with the questions above, I have triggered the critics of MOM, who rather complain about such extravagant expenditure despite the curse of poverty and unemployment in India. Sir/Ma’am, do we have to necessarily wait for poverty to eradicate before launching a space mission that we are fully capable of accomplishing? Should it not be a parallel, synchronous and harmonious process of development in all aspects? Corrupt politicians and the meaningless distribution and hoarding of funds by politicians, has kept us away from fixing the problems like poverty and unemployment in India. Should the corrupt politicians and their insensible distribution of funds, stop these intellectually glorious endeavours of our scientists?

300 days of cruise phase for Mangalayaan, will start a new beginning tomorrow. Let’s just stay humble and hopeful!

Mayawati’s Statues and Uday Chopra’s Movies have cost us 3 ISRO Missions!

ISRO Mission cost us merely 450 crores, yet we made choices of spending the tax payer’s money at some embarrassing options.


Request: This is on a lighter note(satire). If you like it, go ahead and share this!

References for Cost Estimates:


The death of GPS in INDIA.. Coming Soon..

On 4 April 2014 at 17:14 IST, IRNSS-1B was launched. IRNSS-1B is the second out of seven in the Indian Regional Navigational Satellite System. We are inching closer to our own (self designed, tested and maintained) satellite navigation system and thus, we need not be dependent on the GPS services from USA or Russian GLONASS, henceforth. Does that statement sound orthodox to you? Well, during the Kargil war in 1999, India approached USA for the GPS data information to track the troops from Pakistan and USA denied upfront. That was the first time when Indians realized that they need their own navigation system to map and track the humongous span of mass and land, where India spreads across the globe.

The project IRNSS got approved in May, 2006 and if things had fallen as per plan, then we would have had a fully functional indigenous navigation system by now. But, being an engineer myself, I empathize with ISRO for the delay and appreciate the efforts being put by them in developing yet another successful space application.

What is the status? Well, before 1B,  IRNSS-1A was launched in July 2013. The launch for IRNSS 1C and 1D has been scheduled by December, 2014. By the principle of triangulation, a minimum of four satellited are needed to accurately calculate a position (latitude, longitude and altitude) on a 3D plane. If things fall as per plan, by end of this year ISRO would have conducted the 3D position fixing test on IRNSS ground based receivers. By 2016, we should have all the  7 satellites launched and placed in their orbits.

irnssWhat is the working of the system? IRNSS signals will consist of a Special Positioning Service and a Precision Service. Both will be carried on L5 (1176.45 MHz) and S band (2492.08 MHz). The SPS signal will be modulated by a 1 MHz BPSK signal. The Precision Service will use BOC(5,2). The navigation signals themselves would be transmitted in the S-band frequency (2–4 GHz) and broadcast through a phased array antenna to maintain required coverage and signal strength.Three of the seven satellites will be in geostationary orbits and the other four in inclined geosynchronous orbits. From ground, the three geostationary satellites will appear at a fixed point in the sky. However, the four geosynchronous satellites moving in inclined orbits in pairs will appear to move in the figure of ‘8’ when ‘seen’ from ground. This is what has been shown in the image. The IRNSS design requirements call for a position accuracy of < 20 m throughout India and within the region of coverage extending about 1500 km beyond.

I feel lucky to be witnessing the birth of this technology in India. The fantasy of having an IRNSS app on the iOS for navigation services, is irresistible!