Simultaneous launch of 83 satellites and fast breeder reactor going critical are some of the targets set by the Departments of Atomic Energy and Space as they look forward to 2017 to put behind the lows of this year of missing out an NSG spot and losing Antrix Devas case.
ISRO is aiming a major feat January with the launch of nearly 83 satellites, 80 of them being foreign, at one go. “We are also launching GSLV Mark III and five communication satellites next year, including the South Asian satellite,” said ISRO chairman and Department of Space Secretary A S Kirankumar.
Launching of GSLV Mark III will be a crucial development in the country’s space history.
“Next year, we are hopeful that Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) goes critical,” said Sekhar Basu, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and DAE Secretary. If India achieves success in the project, which has been on for over two and a half decades now, it will become the first country to successfully execute the project. It will also see India graduating to a second stage in its nuke energy programme.
2016 saw ISRO launching several satellites, with major one being completion of the constellation of regional satellites, a move that brings India’s regional navigation on par with US’ Global Positioning System (GPS). The year also recorded ISRO’s feat of launching 20 satellites at one go.
Apart from it, the space agency also launched GSAT-18, RESOURCESAT-2A, Cartosat-2 Series Satellites for communication, agriculture and weather-related works respectively. The country’s space agency also experimented with projects that would have a long-term impact on its future missions.
For instance, the successful tests of Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLV), capable of launching satellites into orbit around earth and then re-enter the atmosphere, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
India also joined a select club of nations by successfully test-firing its futuristic Scramjet Rocket Engine using oxygen from the atmosphere.
However, its achievements were marred by a few jolts. The space agency lost a major case in Antrix-Devas deal, second such litigation, where ISRO has been asked to cough up several million dollars by a Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal based in the Hague.
Prime Minister’s ambitious SAARC satellite project also suffered a setback after Pakistan backed out of the endeavour. The satellite, which was to be launched this month, has now been renamed as South Asian Satellite.