INDIA PLANS USE OF SMALLER SATELLITES AS ‘WATCHDOGS’
By Bulbul Singh
In July India put plans in place cluster of smaller satellites which would be able to see moving targets on the ground and sea as watchdog satellites. The Long Term future plan of Ministry of Defence spells out futuristic needs in Aerospace, Communication and Surveillance and indicates that in future smaller satellites will be used.
‘With miniaturization, the future trends should be towards smaller satellites. In fact, a network of satellites capable of working together should be capable of seeing a moving target on the ground or at sea anywhere in the world. With the advent of anti-satellite weapons (ASAT) a concept of ‘watchdog satellites’ to guard other satellites could also be explored,’ states the Technology Perspective and Capability Roadmap (TPCR), which is a roadmap for the next 15 years in terms of possible technologies which the military would use. The TPCR is based the Armed Forces Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan (LTIPP) which covers a period of 15 years and it identifies the shape and size of the Forces over the designated time period based on foreseeable strategic trends.
Currently Satellites are being utilized for meeting reconnaissance, surveillance, meteorological, navigation, and communication requirements. ‘New programmes are required to encompass growing needs of data-intensive modern weapon systems,’ says the TPCR.
A senior Indian MoD official said, India plans to have micro satellites weighing less than 100 kilograms to perform many of the functions currently performed by expensive large satellite systems.
Meanwhile India’s first military satellite which will be used for the Navy’s telecommunication is ready for launch by August, said sources in the MoD. The satellite, named GSAT-7 built by Indian Space Research Organization is a multi-band satellite carrying payloads in UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-band.
The 2330 kilogram GSAT-7 will also have a follow up satellite the GSAT-7A for the Indian Air Force.
Israel is helping India build Project Rukhmani which will network Indian Navy’s warships with the newly launched satellite. Project Rukhmani is a warship borne under the aegis of the Indian Space and Research Organization, (ISRO) which involves delivery and installation of 3D Stabilized, very small aperture terminal (VSAT) Antenna for the entire Indian Navy, said an official of ISRO.
Under this project Ku band VSAT terminals and C Band VSAT terminals are being built by state-owned Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and state owned Electronics Corporation of India Limited (ECIL). Orbit of Israel is the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). The ship-borne terminals will operate on variety of frequencies and will provide continuous and unhindered communications connectivity in voice, fax, data, video, IP format using either of the operational bands C or Ku.
Giving the future roadmap the TPCR says a number of technological advances in satellite system are likely to take place in the near future.
These would include:
(a) Use of Ka Band. This will provide larger bandwidths, increase total capacity per satellite, and result in power and cost reduction of ground stations.
(b) On-Board Processing (OBP) Techniques. To provide flexible manipulation of base band by allowing connectivity between user of different transponders or in different beams and use of multiple beams in place of single wide beam coverage. Steerable beams to provide communication in less frequented areas. High bandwidth, polar micro communication satellite network, cryptography, data compression and satellite cross links.
(c) Low Earth orbit/Medium Earth Orbit LEO/MEO Satellite System. To reduce propagation delay associated with geo-stationary satellites, lower orbit satellite system similar to the commercial system like Globe Star and Teledesic.
The TPCR indicates the techno