"The mission was perfect," said G Madhavan Nair, chairman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Mr. Nair was celebrating the latest successful launch by India of a mission with 10 satellites from the Sriharikota space center off India's east coast.

This latest success by ISRO makes India a serious contender in the fast growing $2.5B commercial satellite launch business expected to grow rapidly over the next several years. The BBC is reporting that the rocket carried an Indian mini satellite to gather technological data which will be available for sale, and eight tiny research satellites belonging to research facilities in Canada, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. India started its space program in 1963, and has since designed, built and launched its own satellites into space.

Last year, India put an Italian satellite into orbit for a fee of $11m. In January, India successfully launched an Israeli spy satellite into orbit, according to the BBC.

Beyond the Indian commercial ambitions, this milestone for India represents a strategic capability as an emerging economic and military power on the world stage. This is also a great comeback for ISRO about two years after a launch in 2006 had to be destroyed less than a minute after lift off when it veered from its path.

Pakistan's SUPARCO, the equivalent of ISRO in India, has no launch capability of its own. It has relied on Chinese and Russian space agencies to launch its satellites Badr-1 and Badr-2. India's success in space is likely to be seen in Pakistan as a threat, or at least a challenge that they must respond to. Pakistan has a lot of catching up to do to try and reduce the gap between the space capabilities of the two nuclear-armed rivals in South Asia.

Just as Russia's Sputnik launch on October 4, 1957, spurred the Americans to respond with a comprehensive effort in space technology, the Indian success yesterday has the potential to serve as a wake-up call for Pakistanis to renew their efforts and focus on science and technology education, innovation and research to become competitive with India in space. Only time will tell if Pakistanis are really up to this challenge.

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Comment by Riaz Haq on January 24, 2012 at 6:46pm

Former ISRO chief Madhavan Nair barred from holding Indian govt jobs, reports The Indian Express:

In an unprecedented disciplinary action, four of the biggest names in the space community, including former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) G Madhavan Nair, have been barred from occupying any government position — current or in future — for their role in the Antrix-Devas deal, in which a private company was accused to have been wrongfully allotted S-band frequencies for radio waves.

A Bhaskarnarayana, former scientific secretary in ISRO; K R Sridharmurthi, former managing director of Antrix which is the marketing arm of ISRO; and K N Shankara, former director in ISRO’s satellite centre, are the others who have been penalised, according to an order issued by the Department of Space on January 13, 2012.

Nair, during whose tenure the contract was signed, is the recipient of the Padma Vibhushan. He is the chairman of the board of governors of IIT Patna.

The order, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, is signed by Sandhya Venugopal Sharma, director, Department of Space. While it does not specify the allegations against these scientists, the order says that the decision comes after the government “carefully considered” the report of the high-powered review committee set up on February 10, 2011 and that of another team set up on May 31, 2011.

The order, sent to all Secretaries of the Government of India and Chief Secretaries of state governments and Union Territories, says that these “former Officers of the Department of Space shall be excluded from re-employment, committee roles or any other important role under the government”.

Further, the order states that “these former officers shall be divested of any current assignment/consultancy with the government with immediate effect”. Ministries and departments concerned have been asked to communicate necessary action taken towards the same to the Department of Space.

The deal involved a contract that Antrix Corporation — whose mandate is to market technologies developed by ISRO — had signed with Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia in 2005. The multi-million dollar deal gave Devas bulk lease — 90 per cent — of transponders on two yet-to-be-launched satellites for supporting a range of satellite-based applications for mobile devices through S-band frequencies. For this, the company was given access to 70 MHz of the 150 MHz spectrum that ISRO owns in the S-band.

The Cabinet approved the building of these two satellites — GSAT-6 for Rs 269 crore and GSAT-6A for Rs 147 crore — in 2009. The cost of the launch of satellites was to be Rs 350 crore. Interestingly, the Cabinet was not informed that these two satellites were meant to be used by Devas, a fact admitted by ISRO. ...


Comment by Riaz Haq on June 7, 2012 at 8:01pm

Here's a China Daily story on China-Pak space cooperation:

China and Pakistan on Thursday outlined their space cooperation plan for the next eight years, which will be an important area for the two neighbors to boost bilateral cooperation as "all-weather friends".

President Hu Jintao and his visiting Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari also agreed to deepen cooperation in areas including security, the economy and trade, investment, transportation infrastructure and energy.

Zardari arrived in Beijing earlier this week for the visit and attended the 12th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit on Wednesday and Thursday. Pakistan is an observer state of the organization, which groups Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

After their talks on Thursday afternoon, Hu and Zardari witnessed the signing of a 2012-20 space cooperation outline between the China National Space Administration and the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission.

Hu said he hopes the two countries expand their pragmatic cooperation, especially in the sectors of trade, energy, transportation infrastructure construction, agriculture, telecommunications, aerospace and technology.

Analysts said China-Pakistan space cooperation is timely and mutually beneficial, and adds a new dimension to their already robust relationship.

"China is looking for a market for its growing space expertise. And Pakistan needs assistance with soft loans, training of its scientists and know-how in space sciences," Ghulam Ali, of the Institute of International Relations of National Chengchi University in Taipei, wrote in an article published on the website of East Asia Forum.

"This cooperation adds a new dimension to their already robust relationship. It brings Pakistan closer to China than ever before."

On Aug 11, China successfully launched Pakistan's communication satellite, Paksat-1R, into space from its Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province.

"China will continue to provide assistance for Pakistan's economic and social development within our capacity," Hu said.

Hu said China encourages and supports its companies to participate in Pakistan's energy and power projects.

He also suggested the two countries enhance law enforcement and security cooperation and jointly combat the "three evil forces" of terrorism, extremism and separatism.

Hailing Sino-Pakistani ties as an "all-weather friendly cooperative relationship", Zardari thanked China for its support of Pakistan's domestic stability, development and assistance to the country after natural disasters.

Zardari said he welcomes Chinese enterprises to expand investments in Pakistan, especially in infrastructure construction and the energy sector, so as to safeguard Pakistan's economic development and improve people's living standards.

"Pakistan will continue to support China on issues concerning China's core interests and be tough on terrorism", Zardari said.


Comment by Riaz Haq on March 6, 2017 at 2:00pm

Jubilation and scepticism greet #India’s world #space record. #ISRO https://www.ft.com/content/f6df149e-fcaf-11e6-96f8-3700c5664d30 … via @FT

the fanfare masks a more modest reality — India has made a small inroad into the lucrative commercial space industry but headline-grabbing advances such as last month’s rocket launch have been far outstripped by China’s investments into a manned space station and robotic missions to the moon.

“The Chinese space programme operates on a very different scale than the Indian,” says Asif Siddiqi, professor of history at Fordham university. “It is much bigger, both in terms of annual launches and annual investments, it does a lot more in terms of actual capabilities and it also has a much more explicit military dimension.”

The new Indian record, which tripled Russia’s previous record of 37 satellites from a single rocket, was only possible because most of the spacecraft were extremely small, he added. India’s space agency received about $1.1bn of funding last year compared with an estimated $7-8bn in China, says Dinshaw Mistry, professor of political science and Asian studies at the University of Cincinnati. 

In Beijing, India’s enthusiasm for its world record has been dismissed as overblown.

“China’s opponents in aerospace is not India but the United States. However, India always makes China its opponent, and every achievement is made into a victory against China and cheered,” ran an editorial in the Global Times, a state-sanctioned tabloid.

“The requirements for Indian rockets are all low cost, so they have a large emphasis on commercial launches, and they are mostly servicing foreign satellites. That is all they are doing,” says Lan Tianyi, chief executive of the Beijing-based aerospace consultancy Yuxun Technology. Most of the technology needed to pack 104 satellites onto one rocket came from foreign companies while “India only provided the rocket and the launch opportunity”, Mr Lan added.

While China has sought to emulate American space achievements and poured resources into high-profile missions like sending a rover to the moon, India has set more conservative targets.

According to Mr Lele, less than 5 per cent of India’s space budget is spent on long-term exploration or international competition. Instead, most is focussed on domestic missions such as environmental and metereological forecasting, or navigation.

India has a 0.6 per cent share of the commercial space industry — compared to China’s 3 per cent — a big growth area for companies that want to send satellites to space for research of commercial purposes, such as mapping or television transmission. The US is the biggest client for the $5.4bn industry, according to data from the Satellite Industry Association, a trade body. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 2, 2019 at 7:46am

While the government claims that the ASAT test has provided ‘credible deterrence’ against threats to space-based assets from long-range missiles, a former ISRO Satellite Communication Engineer said that this won't be effective at all. "Most of the countries' satellites are in the higher orbit, and even with this India won't be able to knock out those satellites," he said. N Kalyan Raman, who has worked with ISRO for over two decades feels that it cannot be an "effective spy satellite".

According to Raman, this kind of 'deterrence' doesn't quite add up because as he puts it, "Not only will you be spending a lot, the enemy can always hit you." He also pointed out that there are various effective ways to spy on your enemy, and the anti-satellite weapon doesn't quite help in it. "In a war like situation, if a country wants to spy on its enemies there are various ways to do it-- for example, Google Earth. All you need is good resolution photos. Why do we even need this?" he asked.

Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, told the Wired that while China can knock out all of India’s satellites India cannot do the same to China. "So it’s kind of a weird balance for India if it’s interested in getting into the anti-satellite deterrence game," he said.

India had acknowledged back in 2012 that it had the “building blocks” for ASAT technology, and it has since tested ballistic missiles that have that capability. However, this most recent test is the first time that India actually intercepted a satellite with one of its missiles.

Raman said that the anti-satellite test was more a demonstration of India’s ballistic missile defence system, rather than its ability to challenge its adversaries in space. "Most medium and long-range ballistic missiles reach apogees well above 300 kilometres, and it's not that simple to destroy them," he added.

Meanwhile, acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has warned any nations contemplating ASAT weapons tests, like the one India carried, risk making a "mess" in space because of debris fields they can leave behind.

This anti-satellite weapon demonstration has a long history. It first came into existence in the Cold War/Space Race era, 1985 was the last time that the United States had used an anti-satellite system to destroy its P-781 satellite that had instruments aboard to study solar radiation. "Then was a paranoid situation. We don't live in those times anymore," Raman said. He said that if this was an effective tool in winning wars other countries would be interested in developing them too. But, they aren't.

He also said that space is occupied by multiple satellites of many countries. "The ASAT weapon won't give any strategic advantage, no country is dependent on one satellite," he said. "This is is just about optics. It's a part of the aggressive posture, this is just telling the country that we have muscle," he added.

Having worked with ISRO for over two decades, Raman also lamented on how the space research organisation has changed its art of work. "ISRO has done such great work-- they have always been associated with peacebuilding efforts. Now to be associated with this anti-satellite is simply distasteful." Although the Prime Minister emphasised that the test did not alter its commitment against the weaponisation of outer space, Raman said, "To mix warlike activity with ISRO is repulsive".

Vikram Ambalal Sarabhai, an Indian scientist and innovator widely regarded as the father of India's space programme, had once said, "There is a real danger that developing nations may adopt a space programme largely for the glamour, devoting resources not through a recognition of the values of which we are talking about here, but from a desire to create a sham image nationally and internationally." Raman agrees.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 2, 2019 at 7:46am

#NASA Chief: "#India anti-satellite missile test a terrible thing.... 400 pieces of orbital debris placing the International Space Station (ISS) and its astronauts at risk". #ASATMissile #satellites #space #Modi @CNN https://cnn.it/2HQDp7r

India's anti-satellite missile test created at least 400 pieces of orbital debris, the head of NASA says -- placing the International Space Station (ISS) and its astronauts at risk.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said Monday that just 60 pieces of debris were large enough to track. Of those, 24 went above the apogee of the ISS, the point of the space station's orbit farthest from the Earth.
"That is a terrible, terrible thing to create an event that sends debris at an apogee that goes above the International Space Station," Bridenstine said in a live-streamed NASA town hall meeting. "That kind of activity is not compatible with the future of human spaceflight."
He added: "It is not acceptable for us to allow people to create orbital debris fields that put at risk our people."
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced on March 27 that the country had achieved a "historic feat" by shooting down its own low-orbit satellite with a ground-to-space missile.
Only three other countries -- the US, Russia and China -- have anti-satellite missile capabilities.

India election
India's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the test was conducted in "the lower atmosphere to ensure that there is no space debris," and "whatever debris that is generated will decay and fall back onto the Earth within weeks."
But Bridenstine said the Indian test had increased the risk of small debris hitting the ISS by 44% over the 10 days immediately afterward.
"It's unacceptable, and NASA needs to be very clear about what its impact to us is," he added.
India election 2019: latest updates
India election 2019: latest updates
"We are charged with enabling more activities in space than we've ever seen before for the purpose of benefiting the human condition, whether it's pharmaceuticals or printing human organs in 3-D to save lives here on Earth, or manufacturing capabilities in space that you're not able to do in a gravity well.
"All of those are placed at risk when these kind of events happen — and when one country does it, then other countries feel like they have to do it as well."
NASA is tracking 23,000 pieces of orbital debris 10 centimeters (almost 4 inches) or bigger.
A third of all debris cataloged by NASA was created in 2007, when China conducted an anti-satellite test, and in 2009 when American and Russian communications satellites collided.
However Bridenstine said India's test was conducted low enough that "over time, this (debris) will all dissipate," with the ISS and all astronauts on board safe.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 11, 2019 at 2:28pm

Anti-Satellite test can steel #India’s ballistic #missile defenses against #Pakistan: Chinese blog. #ASAT #Modi #China https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/anti-satellite-test-can...

Consequently, if India succeeds in developing anti-missile weapons, “Pakistan’s nuclear strike capability will undoubtedly be effectively weakened”.
India’s test of an anti-satellite weapon last month has made some experts in China conclude that the trial will feed into New Delhi’s bid to firm up its ballistic missile defences.

A blog posted on website guancha. cn, points out that by destroying a satellite at a height of 274 km during the March 27 test, India has taken a major step to develop its missing capacity to intercept incoming ballistic missiles at high altitudes.

The article, penned by Shi Yang, described as a foreign relations and military observer, says that so far India has shown the capacity to intercept short-range ballistic missiles at heights ranging from 30 km to 150 km. Its capability to target mid-range missiles has been limited.

But by striking a satellite at 274 km during the test, India is now on its way to developing a parallel capacity to destroy mid-range ballistic missiles at greater heights.

The article says that there is an overlap in the ASAT and anti-ballistic missile technology - destroying medium-range missiles is much harder. It is easier to strike a satellite, as its movement along its orbit is predictable and can be monitored over time. But the tasks involved in downing incoming ballistic missiles are far more complex.

“From detecting, locating, calculating the elements to intercepting the missile launch and meeting with the target, all processes must be performed before the missile hits,” says the blog.

Specifically, “the development of long-range radar equipment, and command and control systems required by an anti-missile system are obviously a huge challenge for India”.

Pakistan has been a major factor driving the advancement of India’s ballistic missile defences. “Because India and Pakistan have huge differences in overall national strength, India has an advantage in most areas, but in the field of nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles, it is not much different from Pakistan,” the article observes.

Consequently, if India succeeds in developing anti-missile weapons, “Pakistan’s nuclear strike capability will undoubtedly be effectively weakened”.


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