India's Space Program Suffers Setback

By Ameer Alam
The Indian Space and Research Organization (ISRO) terminated the Chandrayaan-1 mission 18 hours after losing contact with the spacecraft on Aug 29, 09. The spacecraft completed less than half (10 months) of its two year mission life.

The initial inkling of something amiss came of May 19, 09 when the satellite was suddenly raised from a lunar orbit of 100 km to 200 km orbit. ISRO did not disclose the nature of the problems at that time, instead it claimed that "the higher altitude would enable further studies on gravity anomalies and imaging a wider swath of lunar surface". Later it was revealed that both the primary and secondary star trackers (sensor units), had failed on orbit. Star tracker is a part of the spacecraft attitude control system, which accurately orients the spacecraft and helps keep the cameras and other instruments properly aimed at the lunar surface. The ISRO controllers then switched to a less accurate option of a combination of gyroscopes, antenna-pointing data and lunar landmarks to determine spacecraft orientation.

To make matters worse the Chandrayaan-1 had earlier lost power supply to the satellite primary bus management unit due to overheating. The bus management unit is an on-board computer that performs real-time data, navigation and control processing for the satellite. After the secondary unit lost power the ground controllers stopped receiving telemetry data, radio contact was lost and the mission was abandoned.

Earlier on Aug 20, NASA and ISRO performed joint observations with their lunar orbiters to determine evidence of water/ice at the moon’s North Pole Erlanger Crater, using the US built Mini-SAR/Mini-RF devices. The hope was that bistatic imaging data will reveal whether the radars were actually seeing ice or just surface material with same characteristics. Later on Sep 3, 09 it was announced that the experiment failed because of the pointing problems (gyro drift of 0.8 deg/hr) with Indian spacecraft. Ground controllers managed to get data back from both spacecraft, but it turned out to be unusable. Further experiments were cancelled due to the loss of Indian spacecraft.

These failures are indicative of a lack of understanding of space environment; as a result erroneous thermal profiling caused cascading failures of the spacecraft equipment. Compared to Chandrayaan-1 the Chinese Chang’e-1 and the Japanese Selene lunar missions have performed beyond their expected mission life. The Chinese indigenous space programs continue to thrive despite the technological restrictions imposed by the West.

Nevertheless, Chandrayaan-1 completed 312 days in lunar orbit, circling the moon more than 3,400 times and providing a large volume of data from its suite of sensors which included the Terrain Mapping Camera, Hyper Spectral Imager and Moon Mineralogy Mapper. High-resolution cameras relayed over 70,000 digital images of the lunar surface, providing breathtaking views of mountains and craters, including those in the permanently shadowed area of the moon's polar region. The ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair declared that the mission was a success with 95% of the objectives achieved.

Ameer Alam
The Boeing Co
Space and Network Systems
Huntington Beach CA

Editor's Note: Ameer Alam believes that ISRO is not coming clean with actually what happened to the spacecraft. His view is that it is a great set back to India's space program. Ameer thinks that they are busy analyzing the data and will put out a report in six months (available only to the top govt officials).

Related Links:

India Space Probe Chandrayaan I

India in Moon Race with Big Dogs

China's Chang-e I Ends Lunar Mission with a Bang

Iran Launches Homegrown Satellite

Satellite Capabilities of Emerging Space-Competent Nations

Iran's Space Program

An Indian Analyst's assessment of Pakistan's Space Program


Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Russian report about Chanrayaan-1 suffering a "heat stroke" in space:

NEW DELHI, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - India's first lunar mission may have failed as a result of overheating, a national daily reported on Monday.

Chandrayaan-1 was launched in October 2008 and its main mission was conducting geological mapping of the Moon's surface aimed at producing a complete map of the chemical characteristics and 3-D topography. Chandrayaan means Moon Craft in Sanskrit.

According to The Times of India, Chandrayaan's orbit around the Moon was raised up to 200km (124 miles) from 100km (62 miles) earlier in May this year because of a blunder in calculating the Moon's temperature that led to a faulty thermal protection.

The paper quoted Dr. T. K. Alex, director of the satellite center at the Indian Space Research Organization, as saying that it had been assumed the temperature at 100km above the Moon's surface would be around 75 degrees Celsius (167 Fahrenheit). "However, it was more than 75 degrees and problems started to surface. We had to raise the orbit to 200km."

The paper said heating problems on the craft had begun last November, forcing some of the payloads to deactivate.

In early 2009, the orbiter's two star sensors started malfunctioning and then failed because of high temperatures. The sensors are crucial in determining the orientation of the craft in space.

The project was terminated on August 30, when communication with the spacecraft suddenly failed, although 95% of the scientific aims had been accomplished, according to space officials.

Despite the failure, Chandrayaan-1 managed to transmit excellent images including that of the solar eclipse on July 22.
Riaz Haq said…
Growing Space Focus in Sino-Indian Rivalry, November 12, 2010, By Global Intelligence Report Analysts:

ANALYSIS: Pakistan’s Ambassador to China, Masood Khan, signed a loan agreement with the government-owned Export-Import Bank of China on 9 October to finance the ground control apparatus for a new ‘Paksat-1R’ communications satellite, to be launched on 14 August 2011. This bilateral effort to ensure technical interchange illustrates space as a growing area of contestation in regional strategic developments.

Chinese Space Outreach: This satellite project builds upon a substantial history of China serving as a reliable supplier of sensitive military technology to Pakistan. China launched Pakistan’s first indigenous satellite, Badr-A, in 1990 from Xichang Launch Center in Sichuan. The operation of this satellite gave Pakistani scientists practical understanding of telemetry, orbital patterns, surveillance, and Chinese launch platforms.

The Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization (APSCO), headquartered in Beijing, was established in 2005 to improve Chinese multilateral space collaboration. APSCO members include Bangladesh, Iran, Mongolia, Pakistan, Peru, and Thailand. International technical cooperation enables Beijing to encourage interoperability with Chinese rocket technology and obtain a greater share of the international commercial launch market.

Achievements in civilian space programs can have great relevance to military projects. Civilian and military rockets utilize similar propulsion, positioning, and control technologies. Space cooperation can therefore serve dual purposes, and support Chinese strategic as well as commercial aims in placing Chinese assistance at the heart of rocket programs of potential allies.

Chinese Strategic Developments: A core aim of Chinese strategic planning is to improve its utilization of space-borne assets. Chinese Air Force Commander General Xu Qilang commented in November 2009 that “as far as the revolution in military affairs is concerned, the competition between military forces is moving towards outer space…this is a historical inevitability and cannot be turned back”.

China’s determination to hold the option of denying the use of space-based capabilities to other states was illuminated in its successful test of an anti-satellite weapon in January 2007, eliminating an old Chinese weather satellite. Building upon this experience, Beijing conducted its first ballistic missile defense (BMD) test on 11 January 2010.

China is developing a geospatial positioning Compass Navigation Satellite System (CNSS), equivalent to the American GPS and Russian GLONASS systems. This will further improve military targeting and location abilities, while offering civilians a satellite positioning service that heralds Chinese technical acumen. Beijing also seeks to launch a manned space lab by 2020.

Indian Capabilities: New Delhi shares the recognition by Beijing of the importance of a wide range of space capabilities as an indispensable element of a robust defense. India’s ‘Phase 1′ BMD system incorporates the Prithvi Air Defense missile for high-altitude elimination of adversary missiles, and an Advanced Air Defense system for low-altitude interception. Supportive radar technology for this system has been sourced from Israel.

This system has been successfully tested and is moving toward active service. An improved ‘PDV’ interceptor is in development to replace the Prithvi Air Defense missile. The ‘Phase 1′ system is designed to target missiles with a maximum range of 2,000km, such as the Pakistani Shaheen-2 and Ghauri missiles. A ‘Phase 2′ system is planned for missiles with a range greater than 2,000km, implicitly those of Chinese origin.
American Leverage: The Indian Space Research Organisation is working with NASA on lunar exploration tasks. Indian diplomats are seeking for Washington to lift remaining restrictions ......
Riaz Haq said…
#India Loses Contact with #Vikram Lander During Historic #Moon Landing Attempt. Today's possible failure may mark the second time #ISRO has crash-landed a spacecraft on the moon. #Chandrayaan2

India lost contact with its Vikram lunar lander Friday (Sept. 6) during a daring attempt to make history as the first country to land near the south pole. The landing anomaly may have dashed Indian dreams of becoming just the fourth country to successfully soft-land a spacecraft on the moon.

Long, tense minutes stretched out inside the mission control center for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), which designed the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had arrived onsite at the ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru, India, about half an hour before touchdown of the landed component, dubbed Vikram, was scheduled to take place.

That announcement came at 4:48 p.m. EDT (2048 GMT) from K. Sivan, the director of ISRO. "Vikram lander descent was as planned and normal performance was observed up to an altitude of 2.1 kilometers [1.3 miles]," Sivan said in an announcement at mission control. "Subsequently the communications from the lander to the ground station was lost. The data is being analyzed."

Chandrayaan-2 consisted of three components — an orbiter, a lander named Vikram and a rover named Pragyan — which together launched to the moon on July 22 atop a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk III) rocket. It took nearly 7 weeks to arrive at its destination; Chandrayaan-2 arrived in lunar orbit on Aug. 20, and the lander separated from the orbiter on Sept. 2 to begin its descent to the lunar surface.

The lander and the rover were designed to spend one lunar day — about 14 Earth days — investigating the lunar surface with a variety of scientific instruments. Both were expected to shutdown come nightfall at the moon's south pole, because they weren't built to withstand to frigid temperatures of the lunar night.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's #Pakistan Phobia. Rocket Scientist Nambi Narayanan: The fake spy scandal that blew up his career. He acquired #Russia'a cryogenic tech, the backbone of #Indian successes in #space. Narayan was accused of #espionage and transferring #rocket #technology to #Pakistan.

One winter afternoon a quarter of a century ago three policemen arrived at a house in a narrow lane in the southern Indian city of Trivandrum, the capital of the state of Kerala.

The officers were polite and respectful, Nambi Narayanan remembers.

They told the space scientist that their boss, a deputy inspector general of police, wanted to talk to him.

"Am I under arrest?" Mr Narayanan asked.

"No sir," the officer said.

It was 30 November 1994. The 53-year-old scientist led the Indian space agency's cryogenic rocket engine project, and was responsible for acquiring the technology from Russia.

Mr Narayanan walked out to the waiting police vehicle. He asked whether he should sit in the front or the back - suspects were usually dumped in the back seat.

The policemen asked him to sit in the front, and the Jeep rolled out of the lane.

When they arrived at the police station, the boss wasn't there, so Mr Narayanan was asked to wait on a bench. Policemen gaped at him as they passed by.

"They had that look as if they were looking at someone who had done some crime," Mr Narayanan says.

He waited and waited. The boss didn't turn up.

As night fell, he dozed off on the bench. When he woke up next morning, he was told he was under arrest.

A scrum of journalists had arrived, and within hours newspapers were describing him as a traitor - a man who had sold rocket technology to Pakistan, after falling into a honey trap set by two women from the Maldives.

His life was never the same again.


Key dates
1994 - Narayanan arrested and remanded in custody, then bailed in January 1995

1996 - Exonerated by the Central Bureau of Investigation

1998 - Supreme Court finally dismisses Kerala government's appeal

2001 - Kerala government ordered to pay compensation

2018 - Supreme Court orders investigation into fabrication of case

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