India launching own navigation satellite system

In answer to the GPS, India will launch on Monday the first of seven satellites that will form a US$239 million navigation system dedicated to coverage of the country and nearby areas.

India will launch its first dedicated navigation satellite IRNSS-1A on Monday night, aimed toward establishing the country's answer to the American Global Positioning System (GPS).

IRNSS-1A Satellite undergoing test in clean room. (credit: IRSO)

The IRNSS-1A is the first satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) and will provide real-time position and timing information to users in the country and the surrounding 1,500 km radius, said the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), in a report on Sunday by PTI.

Applications of IRNSS include terrestrial aerial and marine navigation, disaster management , vehicle tracking and fleet management, navigation assistance for hikers and drivers, noted the article. It added the IRNSS system is targeted to be completed by 2015 at a total cost of 14.2 billion rupees (US$239 million).

The IRNSS project started nine years ago and had a more limited goal of domestic coverage, which meant only seven satellites are needed compared with GPS's 24 satellites, noted an article by the Hindu.

India's push for its own navigation system follows that of a similar move by China, whose Beidou system's global coverage rivals the GPS more directly. Europe has also been promoting its Galileo satellite navigation system,  launching a competition in April for ideas to help commercialize it by creating new technologies based around satellite data.

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