India successfully launches 5th navigation satellite: gets closer to ‘Desi-GPS’

To the joy of ISRO scientists in Sriharikota, the fifth navigation satellite IRNSS-1E (on-board, the workhorse PSLV-C31) was successfully launched. India is now just one step away to be on par with the US based Global Positioning System (GPS).

In a precise textbook launch, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C 31 blasted off from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) , about 110 km from Chennai at 9.31 AM and released the satellite into the orbit 19 minutes and 20 seconds later.

In a series of tweets, PM Narendra Modi congratulated the ISRO scientists for the successful launch of PSLV C31.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based navigation system that provides location and time information in all weather conditions, anywhere on or near the Earth where there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites. The system provides critical capabilities to military, civil, and commercial users around the world. The United States government created the system, maintains it, and makes it freely accessible to anyone with a GPS receiver.


At present, India is making use of satellite services of other countries for the navigation applications using GPS. The IRNSS, developed by ISRO, would soon offer position information to users in India with accuracy for various applications such as mobile phones, terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation, disaster management etc

IRNSS-1E has a lift-off mass of 1,425 kg and carries Corner Cube Retro Reflectors for laser ranging and a highly accurate rubidium atomic clock (also part of the navigation payload of the satellite).

The four satellites already launched include IRNSS-1A on 1 July 2013, IRNSS-1B on 4 April 2014, IRNSS-1C on 16 October 2014, IRNSS-1D on 28 March, 2015. The four satellites launched earlier are already operational. While four satellites are sufficient to start operations of the IRNSS system, the remaining three are needed to make the signal available 24×7 with both accuracy and precision, scientists said.

ISRO scientists plan to put all the seven navigation satellites in to the orbit by March 2016. The mission life of IRNSS-1E is 12 years.