December 4, 2022

IS4OM to provide information for strategic purposes and research activities in Space Debris and Space Situational Awareness: Minister

Around 60 Start Ups have registered with ISRO since “unlocking” of the Indian Space sector recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi; quite a few of them are dealing with projects related to Space debris management, said Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh

Dr Jitendra Singh said, Space Start-ups will augment the role of Space Department in many emerging technologies including space debris management

The Minister inaugurated the “ISRO System for Safe & Sustainable Operation” (IS4OM) at ISRO Control Centre, Bengaluru today; Facility to provide a comprehensive and timely information of the space environment to users

Bengaluru, Union Minister of State for Atomic Energy and Space Dr. Jitendra Singh said ISRO System for Safe & Sustainable Operation” (IS4OM) facility will aid India in achieving its Space Situational Awareness (SSA) goals by providing a comprehensive and timely information of the Space environment to users. This multi-domain awareness platform will bring a prompt, accurate and efficient information on on-orbit collision, fragmentation, atmospheric re-entry risk, space based strategic information, hazardous asteroids and space weather forecast.

He was speaking at the inauguration of IS4OM at ISRO Control Centre, in Bengaluru on July 11.

Around 60 Start-Ups have registered with ISRO since “unlocking” of the Indian Space sector recently by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and quite a few of them are dealing with projects related to Space debris management. The other Start-Up proposals vary from nano-satellite, launch vehicle, ground systems, research etc., he said.

Dr Jitendra Singh recalled that only last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, during inauguration of IN-SPACe headquartered at Ahmedabad, said, “When the strength of government Space institutions and the passion of India’s private sector will meet, not even the sky will be the limit”.

“When the strength of government Space institutions and the passion of India’s private sector will meet, not even the sky will be the limit”

-Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The Minister reiterated that the passion of private players and innovative Start-Ups will augment the role of the Department of Space in protecting India’s interests in Space by developing all-round capabilities in the domains of space transportation, debris management, infrastructure and applications.

He emphasised that the facility is conceived with a holistic approach towards ensuring safety and sustainability while reaping the benefits of sustainable utilization of outer space for national development.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, ISRO has been taking necessary measures to safeguard all its Space assets from intentional and accidental close approaches by space objects including operational spacecraft and space debris objects. He added that Space Situational Awareness activities have many strategic implications such as identifying and monitoring other operational spacecraft with close approaches, having overpass over Indian region, intentional manoeuvres with suspicious motives and re-entry within the Indian region.

The Minister further elaborated that IS4OM facility can support all routine operations safeguarding Indian space assets, mitigating collision threats from space objects through specific collision avoidance manoeuvres, information required for strategic purposes and research activities in Space Debris and Space Situational Awareness.

Dr Jitendra Singh said, the importance of radars and optical telescopes as the main ground-based facilities for tracking space objects including space debris needs to be highlighted, as accurate orbital information from such ground-based sensors is a prerequisite for mitigating any collision threats to an operational space asset from other objects. The backbone of the SSA system is the network of observational facilities in which the nation is lagging behind other space faring nations. It is required to set up necessary Indian observational facilities for a meaningful and value added SSA system development and alerts generation, the Minister added.

He said, given the ubiquitous applications of Space technology in day-to-day life, the Long-Term Sustainability (LTS) of Outer Space activities is of paramount importance to ensure that the outer Space remains utilizable to the future generations of mankind.

He added that effective management of safe and sustainable operations in outer Space entails a holistic approach encompassing multiple areas related to observation and monitoring of space objects and space environment, processing observations for orbit determination, object characterisation and cataloguing, analysis of evolution of space environment, risk assessment and mitigation, data exchange and collaboration.

Secretary, Department of Space S. Somanath said, infrastructure for Space Weather monitoring and forecast plays a critical role in protecting space based as well as ground-based infrastructure from critical Solar activities. On an equal footing, detection and prevention of asteroid impacts are essential for human welfare. Vision of IS40M towards space weather services and planetary defence initiative are also to be important areas of SSA.

Ever since the inception of the Indian space programme, space-based assets have played a pivotal role in nation building by providing crucial services in the field of communication, weather and resource-monitoring, navigation, etc. However, the ever-growing space object population including that of operational satellites and orbital debris and the associated collision risks pose a serious threat to the safe and sustainable use of outer space.

He said, the increasing congestion of Earth orbits pose a looming threat of collisions among larger debris that could trigger a self-sustained cascading process of further collisions, known as the Kessler syndrome. This could result in a drastic increase in the density of space debris population, rendering outer space inaccessible for future generations.

It may be recalled that for protection of Indian satellites and other equipment in orbit, ISRO actively participates in all international efforts to contain the space debris growth for the long-term sustainability of outer space.

He informed that ISRO is an active member of Inter Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IDAC), IAF Space Debris Working Group, IAA Space Traffic Management Working Group, ISO Space Debris Working Group and UNCOPUOS long term sustainability Working Group – all international organisations contributing to the space debris studies and space situational awareness.

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