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India fails to launch its first private satellite for navigation

The launch of India’s latest navigation satellite on board its polar rocket failed on Thursday following a technical glitch just prior to its scheduled orbiting in space. The rare setback for the ISRO in India’s space history involving the workhorse rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) came shortly after a perfect lift off of the PSLV C-39 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota at around 7 pm.

In a brief announcement, A.S. Kiran Kumar, chief of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), said the mission was unsuccessful because the satellite housed within the heat sink could not be injected. “The C39 launch vehicle had a problem, heat shield has not separated. As a result of that, the satellite is inside the heat shield and we have to go through the detailed analysis to see what has happened,” Kumar announced at the Mission Control Centre.

The 1,425 kg satellite had piggybacked on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, which was on its 41st mission. The satellite was expected to fill in for one of the seven orbiting satellites of NAVIC, which is malfunctioning. NAVIC, which is a system of seven satellites, powers India’s home-grown Global Positioning System.

The satellite was built by a consortium led by Alpha Design Technologies, a defence equipment supplier from Bengaluru, over eight months. The Rs. 400-crore company had been tasked to But for the failed heat shield separation, the remaining activities had gone on smoothly. A successful launch of India’s eighth navigation satellite — IRNSS-1H — would have ushered in a new era in the country’s history of space exploration as, for the first time, the private sector has been actively involved in assembling and testing of a satellite. Earlier, the private sector’s role was limited only to supplying components.


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