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Business News/ News / India/  ISRO's rocket launch delayed due to space traffic congestion

ISRO's rocket launch delayed due to space traffic congestion

Space pollution and overcrowding are becoming major issues due to human activities, with 80% of recorded space entities classified as Space debris, according to the ISRO. The challenge is compounded by anti-satellite tests, which are only conducted by China, the US, India, Russia.

Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3, the word for 'moon craft' in Sanskrit, travels after it was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Friday, July 14, (AP)Premium
Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan-3, the word for 'moon craft' in Sanskrit, travels after it was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India, Friday, July 14, (AP)

Stuck in a traffic jam? If you thought you could escape that in Space, you are wrong. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has found in its assessment that there are 27,000 catalogued Space objects, of which 80 percent is Space debris. As a result of human activities, the outer Space is also congested due to pollution.

"There are millions of Space objects less than 10 cm in size that are uncatalogued and pose a very dangerous situation for Space assets," says S Somanath, ISRO chairman, reported NDTV.

The challenge posed by Space debris is further compounded by the implications of anti-satellite tests, a capability limited to China, the US, India, and Russia, wrote Pallava Bagla, in an opinion piece published on NDTV.

The impeccably executed launch of India's reliable PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) on the morning of July 30 was accompanied by its own set of pre-launch uncertainties, Bagla noted in an opinion piece on NDTV.

It further said that "There was traffic congestion in Space above Sriharikota and the launch was postponed by one minute," confirms the ISRO chief. 

Also Read: ISRO invites applications for these posts, apply before August 21: Vacancies, fee, eligibility, test details here

Moreover, it was scheduled for 6.30 AM but the rocket finally lifted off at 6.31 AM. Technically, it is described as "Space conjunction at the 500 km plus orbit which is densely packed with satellites".

Mint could not completely independently confirm the development.

Furthermore, during the "Made in India, Made for Singapore" launch on July 30, a distinctive development took place as India initiated a novel orbit reduction experiment for the expended stage of the PSLV rocket. For the first time, the fourth stage of the PSLV, positioned at an altitude of 536 km above Earth, was intentionally manoeuvred to descend to a 300 km orbit through a series of precise manoeuvres (consisting of two manoeuvres), Bagla noted in an opinion piece on NDTV.

Somanath said, "This was part of ISRO's voluntary 'Swachh Antriksh Abhiyan' or the keep Space clean endeavour to reduce Space debris".

According to Somnath, the 500 km low earth orbit is a highly valued orbit, and it was voluntarily vacated by ISRO in the spirit of 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' - as applied to Space. Incidentally, by reducing the orbit to 300 km, the wasted 4th stage of PSLV will reenter Earth and burn out in 30 days, as compared to the 18 years it may have lasted in the higher orbit.

Also Read: Chandrayaan-3 Enters Lunar Orbit, First Images of Moon Shared by ISRO; See here

Additionally, India successfully conducted the controlled deorbiting of the non-functional Meghatropiques satellite. Instances of Space debris washing up on shores, like the case in Australia, occur sporadically.

Leveraging advanced radar systems, optical tools, and satellites in orbit, the US Space Command approximates the presence of 26,783 Space entities measuring 10 cm or more in size, alongside countless smaller fragments like detached paint particles, among others, the opinion piece noted.

The distribution of Space entities is quite distinct, with nearly 40% being attributed to the United States, approximately 28% linked to Russia and the former USSR, and an additional 19% associated with China, according to the 'Space Situational Assessment Report' released by ISRO in March.

In stark contrast, India's contribution comprises only 217 Space objects, accounting for a minimal 0.8% of the overall global Space debris.

Union Science Minister Jitendra Singh said, “ISRO has been taking necessary measures to safeguard all its Space assets from intentional and accidental close approaches by Space objects including operational spacecraft and space debris objects."

The opinion piece further stated that in the latest tally, ISRO possesses 52 functioning satellites currently positioned in Space. As stated by Somanath, there are six non-operational satellites and 105 fragments of Space debris (comprising rocket bodies and fragments) of Indian origin that continue to orbit. Collectively, India's satellite launches amount to 130, with 73 situated in low Earth orbit (LEO) and 54 positioned in geostationary orbit (GEO).

Also Read: Chandrayaan-3 functioning very well, orbit changes happening as planned: ISRO chairman S Somanath

Mangalyaan remains positioned in orbit around Mars, while the Chandrayaan series comprises three satellites encircling the Moon. Ever since the inauguration of the Aryabhatta satellite in 1975, India has launched satellites that influence virtually every aspect of daily life within the country, encompassing weather prediction, television communication, and facilitating India's expansive digital infrastructure.

Somanath underscores that, at present, India has no substantiated instances of recorded losses of Indian Space assets due to collisions. However, India did encounter mysterious circumstances leading to the loss of the INSAT 2D and GSAT-6A satellites.

With more than 50 operational satellites, India's Space assets are valued at over 50,000 crore, necessitating comprehensive protection. These vital satellites play a crucial role in the country's economy, underscoring India's dependence on these essential elements in the sky.

Established in the previous year, the 'ISRO System for Safe and Sustainable Space Operations Management' (IS4OM) serves as a mechanism for consistently evaluating data to anticipate the trajectories of other Space objects that come into proximity with Indian space assets. During 2022, ISRO's in-house Space Object Proximity Analysis (SOPA) was responsible for generating approximately 14,000 notifications regarding imminent close approaches within a 1-kilometer range.

Additionally, around 13,000 notifications concerning close approaches were obtained from the US Space Command. These notifications underwent reevaluation using more precise orbital information related to India's functional satellites.

(With insights from NDTV)

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Published: 08 Aug 2023, 07:52 AM IST
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