India sets up satellite navigation centre

doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.71 Published online 29 May 2013

India will coordinate a constellation of seven satellites from an independent satellite navigation centre at the Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) complex in Byalalu, about 40 km from Bangalore.

The ISRO Navigation Centre (INC) inaugurated on May 28, 2013 will handle the fleet of navigational satellites, first of which is scheduled for launch in June 2013 on board India's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota. The fleet will serve as India's regional GPS.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K. Radhakrishnan said after the centre's inauguration that it will be an important element of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). The INC will be responsible for providing the time reference, generation of navigation messages and monitoring and control of ground facilities including ranging stations of IRNSS.

The IRNSS constellation will enable its users to determine their location and time accurately. These satellites will be positioned in geostationary and inclined geosynchronous orbits 36,000 km above the earth's surface. The fleet will cover India and its neighborhood. The satellites are equipped with high precision atomic clocks and can continuously transmit navigation signals to users in aerospace, military, transport systems and the Survey of India, according to ISRO sources.

IRNSS will have 21 ranging stations across India to determine the orbits of the satellites and to monitor their navigation signals. The data from these stations will be sent to the INC to generate navigation messages that will be transmitted to the satellites through a spacecraft control facility.

The navigation satellite fleet will give positional accuracy of within 10 metres, according to the sources.