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Skyroot inks pact with Italy's D-Orbit for pilot space mission

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D-Orbit's ION (InOrbit NOW) Satellite-Carrier

Space technology startup Skyroot Aerospace has signed an agreement with Italian space logistics company D-Orbit to jointly conduct a pilot mission that will utilize the Indian firm’s Vikram launch vehicle and the latter company’s ION satellite carrier.

The two companies on Tuesday announced that they have signed a technical contract that sets the ball rolling for the pilot mission, but did not give details on how soon the project would result in an actual launch into orbit.

“India is rapidly emerging as a leader in rocket technology,” said Matteo Bartolini, launch manager at D-Orbit. “Skyroot’s Vikram rocket family is characterized by an extraordinary level of launch flexibility that can provide an interesting match with the proven capabilities of our ION Satellite Carrier.”

Skyroot’s Vikram series of launch vehicles is being designed to launch small satellites while cutting down the time and providing flexibility in terms of area of launch by being portable. Different versions of the launch vehicle will have payload capacities ranging from 225-700 kilogrammes to lower earth orbit.

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Vikram-series Launch Vehicles currently in development, designed by Skyroot Aerospace

The Hyderabad-based company has said that its Vikram rockets will be able to be manufactured and assembled in 72 hours, and will be able to launch from a mobile launcher.

D-Orbit has developed a vehicle to carry multiple satellites and transport them to designated orbits and release them in their individual slots. The company says its partnership with Skyroot will give the company access to the Asian space market.

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The ION Satellite Carrier can dispense multiple cubesats into various payloads

“We are happy to partner with D-Orbit in our joint efforts to democratize access to space,” said Pawan Kumar Chandana, co-founder and CEO at Skyroot Aerospace. “D-Orbit is building cutting edge in-space transportation systems that will strengthen our offering to customers widening our last-mile delivery of payloads into precise orbits.”


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Skyroot had previously also signed on to launch Bellatrix Aerospace's OTV platform that performs a somewhere similar role, but using Hall-effect thrusters instead of liquid apogee motors. More on that deal here:


D-Orbit's various other offerings can be browsed on their site (there are plenty!):


Is there any idea as to when this first launch will take place? So exciting!
 

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has commissioned a new 18m antenna, which for the first time, allows the space agency to conduct telemetry and command operations on the much faster X band (frequency). So far, Isro only used X band for payload data downloading and used the S band for telemetry and command.

Compared to S band, which operates with 2GHz to 4GHz, X band functions in 8GHz to 10GHz. Sources at Isro, terming this a major milestone, said this has two advantages: "First, it increases the speed of commands and second, reduces possibility of any interference given that the S band is now also used by telecom companies for 5G."

The antenna was developed from the funds meant for Aditya-L1 — India’s first solar missions expected to be launched in late 2022 — and will be used for other deep space missions in the future too aside from being available for international customers.

"The indigenous antenna and station is capable of performing transmit and receive operations in both S and X bands. It is equipped with auto-tracking features in both the bands and is remotely operable from the Isro Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (Istrac) network control centre and is CCSDS (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems) compliant facilitating interoperability and cross-support among different space agencies," a senior scientist told TOI.

Another scientist said that with international agencies like Nasa having already migrated to X band for telemetry and command operations, Isro was unable to offer services so far. With the commissioning of the new antenna, the space agency will be able to attract more collaborations.

Confirming the developments, Isro chairman K Sivan, said: "Developed by ECIL (Electronics Corporation of India Limited) with some key systems coming from BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre), the antenna has been commissioned in Byalalu here. It marks a new era as we can do telemetry operations in a new band, and it will also provide opportunities for NSIL to commercialise it in the future.”

Sivan said that the demand for the said antenna arrived from Aditya-L1 and has been commissioned as part of the preparations for the mission. "But other deep space missions and satellites can also use it in the future," he said.

Aditya-L1 is India’s first dedicated space-based solar observatory of India and will be around the Earth-Sun Lagrange point L1. "With the inclusion of multiple payloads, this project also provides an opportunity to solar scientists from multiple institutions within the country to participate in space-based instrumentation and observations. Thus the enhanced Aditya-L1 project will enable a comprehensive understanding of the dynamical processes of the sun and address some of the outstanding problems in solar physics," according to Isro.
 

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I appreciate India's space projects. I think it was the last one sent to Mars, it was taken if I remember correctly

Yup that was first mission: mangalyaan


The 2nd mars mission is underway and planned for 2025 currently:


If the moon lander mission (chandrayaan-2) succeeded, this one was expected to have lander on mars too.

But it will be orbiter only, ISRO needs to have successful moon lander mission first as the lander module of chandrayaan-2 failed...so Chandrayaan 3 will need to prove that:

 

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India’s first manned ocean mission ‘Samudrayan’ was launched here on Friday by Union Minister Jitendra Singh and with this the nation joined an elite club of nations having such underwater vehicles for carrying out subsea activities.

The nation has made huge progress in science and technology and when an Indian goes up into space as part of the Gaganyaan programme, another would dive deep into the ocean, the Minister said.

The Minister tweeted,”Launched India’s First Manned Ocean Mission #Samudrayan at #Chennai. India joins elite club of select nations USA, Russia, Japan, France & China having such underwater vehicles.A new chapter opens to explore ocean resources for drinking water, clean energy & blue economy.”


In his launch address at the National Institute of Ocean Technology here, Singh said the mission does not only increase the scientific capacity but also gives the nation a sense of esteem that “we are doing something which is no less than any other country of the world.”

“What we are actually contributing is not only confined to the realms of scientific work, it is actually contributing to building of India’s national esteem,” he said at the event that also coincided with the institution’s foundation day celebrations.

“Very soon, may be in a year or two, we have a man going deep into the ocean, and I was telling the other day to some of the scientists from ISRO that it was a strange coincidence because Gaganyaan has got delayed.”

“It was to be launched somewhere by the end of this year or before the next Independence day. I said it was God’s will, now we have one man going up in space and one in the ocean simultaneously. The delay in Gaganyaan has virtually timed it with your deep sea mission. So when an Indian goes up into the space, same time, an Indian will go deep into the ocean. See what a huge progress,” the Minister said.

An official release said the Matsya 6000 under Samudrayan initiative is capable of carrying three human beings in titanium alloy personnel sphere of 2.1 metre diameter enclosed space with an endurance of 12 hours and an additional 96 hours in case of emergency situation.

The niche technology facilitates carrying out deep ocean exploration of non-living resources such as polymetallic manganese nodules, gas hydrates, hydro-thermal sulphides and cobalt crusts, the NIOT said.

Matsya 6000, the deep sea vehicle, will be ready for qualification trials by December 2024, according to an NIOT official.

“The manned submersible can take three scientists to ocean depths to explore oceans and to survey the ocean bed and collect the data and samples,” the official said.

By the end of 2022 or 2023, the shallow water (500 metres) phase is expected to happen which would be followed by more deeper initiatives, he added.

“Indigenous efforts are underway at NIOT towards design of the vehicle and some of the subsystems are realized from Indian as well as from global market towards its special usage in high pressure deep sea environment,” the release said.

The NIOT had developed a ‘personnel sphere’ made of mild steel with local industry for an operational capability of 500 metres and tested for its usage as per the International Classification and Certification Agency for man rated operation during this month sea trial using Ocean Research Vessel Sagar Nidhi in Bay of Bengal.

The deep sea vehicle shall be maneuvered at deep sea floor with six degree freedom using battery powered propulsion system for 4 hours at 6000 metre depth, according to the release.

“Basically this vehicle is a platform to carry any devices, sensors etc to deep sea for doing experiments/observations in the presence of a human being.” This programme shall augment India’s capability with infrastructure facility such as high thickness welding facility and deep ocean simulator.

During the course of the programme new skill sets are being added under the capacity building which would pave the way for industry development within the country under ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ in the 75th Year of India’ Independence.

System design, concept of operation, subcomponents functionality and integrity, emergency rescue, failure mode analysis are reviewed and certified as per the rules of International Association of Classification and Certification Society for man-rated usage of manned submersible at a depth of 6000 metres, the release added.

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Picture from google search (credit to original owner):

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