India launches last satellite to complete own satnav network

India Thursday successfully launched the last of seven satellites for a new global positioning system for the region, the Indian Space Research Organisation said.

The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) has been designed to provide position information in India and a 1,500-kilometre radius around it and was expected to reduce regional dependence on the US-developed Global Positioning System.

The 1,425-kilogram satellite was put into orbit 20 minutes after the rocket carrying it lifted off from a launch pad in Andhra Pradesh state, ISRO chief AS Kiran Kumar said.

"The world will now know this system as Navic, that is Navigation with Indian Constellation (of satellites)," said Premier Narendra Modi who witnessed the launch via a live video link. It is similar to the Hindi word Navik, which means sailor.

Besides the United States, China and Russia have their own navigation systems.

"We used to be dependent on others for navigation, today we have become independent," Modi said. "With this successful launch, we will determine our own paths powered by our technology."

The system would be made available to neighbouring South Asian countries, he added.

The IRNSS system should be up and running within a month, according to the ISRO.

Appropriate technology for commercial applications was being developed and it may take up to a year for the system to be available for use on devices like cellphones, ISRO sources said.

The first IRNSS satellite was put in orbit in 2013. At first, only ISRO's test receivers will make use of the IRNSS signals and data.

Besides navigation on land, sea and air, it could be used for disaster management, mapping and vehicle tracking and fleet management.

Navic is expected to be more reliable for the region than GPS, Indian scientists said. ISRO officials told local media that the cost of the seven-satellite system was 14.2 billion rupees (210 million dollars).

India has one of the world's largest constellations of remote sensing and communication satellites, which are used for broadcasting, weather forecasting and geo-mapping applications.

Last update: Thu, 28/04/2016 - 12:25

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