Pradeep's Space Newsletter #3

Starting again after a long time..and now every quarter

My last issue of the newsletter was sent out on July 24, 2019. Since then, a lot has transpired. When you recieve this newsletter, we might be in the middle of a 21-day National Lockdown that India has instituted to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

ISRO designed Telemedicene and Village Resource Center Network is expected to provide medical services to rural areas. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) has notified Telemedicene guidelines notified for India. VSSC, ISRO’s rocket center has also started building ventilators, oxygen canisters and hand sanitizers.

Instead of having to list out everything that has happened since then, let me point you to my article that I wrote for Tech2, News18 Network’s Science and Technology outlet last Christmas.


Annual Report & Budget 2020

Annual Report 2019-20

Budget 2020-2021 (in crores INR)

Revenue: 5704.20

Capital: 7775.27

Total: 13479.47

Launch Mainfest

COVID-19 has had an impact on all the launch activities at Sriharikota.

GSLV-F10 with GISAT 1 is at Sriharikota. GISAT-1 was to be launched on March 5, 2020 but ISRO only announced a delay in the launch saying there was a technical issue without divulging any details. The chatter is that India’s PM Office intervened to stop the launch of the satellite after pressure from the USA because of 6 sensors used on the satellite.

The PSLV-C49/RISAT 2BR2 mission spacecrafts have been arrived at Sriharikota for integration with the launch vehicle. This launch is also likely to be delayed.

India’s new addition to the launch vehicle family, Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) is waiting to demonstrate it’s capability with a launch, SSLV-D01 from Sriharikota.


The only satellite India has launched in 2020, is the GSAT-30, launched on board the Ariane V rocket from Kourou in French Guyana. The 3357 kg spacecraft is now slowly drifting towards it’s orbital slot.

INSAT-4B and GSAT-31 were at the orbital slot where GSAT-30 is heading to, since GSAT-30 was supposed to replace INSAT-4A. However, GSAT-30 only flew this year. INSAT-4B was moved to 85.55 E on February 20, 2020. u/Ohsin on Reddit shared a link for this interesting story which shows how ISRO moves around the satellites in their orbital slot. GSAT-30 flew to 81 E. However, in another Reddit thread, u/Ohsin has pointed out that GSAT-30 is moving West-wards.

Chandrayaan 2 Science Papers

After the disappointment of the failed Chandrayaan-2 Lander, the scientists from the orbiter have put out plenty of papers out. I am happy with their use of Current Science to publish their papers.

Current Science Vol. 118 Issue 1 has papers published on two instruments on board Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter. These are related to the Solar X-Ray monitor and Alpha Particle X-Ray spectrometer.

Current Science Vol. 118 Issue 2 has papers published on four more instruments on board Chandrayaan 2’s orbiter. These are related to CHandra’s Atmospheric Composition Explorer-2 (CHACE-2) , Dual Frequency Radio Science experiment (RAMBHA-DFRS), Chandrayaan-2 Large Area Soft X-ray Spectrometer (CLASS) and L- and S-band Polarimetric Synthetic Aperture Radar (DFSAR).

Current Science Vol. 118 Issue 3 has papers published on 3 more instruments on board Chandrayaan 2 orbiter. These are related to Imaging Infrared Spectrometer (IIRS), Instrument for Lunar Seismic Activity Studies (ILSA) and Lunar near surface plasma environment (Rambha-LP).

Current Science Vol. 118 Issue 4 has papers published on 3 more instruments on board the Chandrayaan 2 orbiter. These are related to Terrain Mapping Camera-2 (TMC-2), Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Orbiter High Resolution Camera (OHRC).

There’s also this nice Reddit post by u/Ohsin about the various scientific papers on Chandrayaan 2 that were to be presented at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference 2020 (LPSC 2020). Also, from LPSC 2020, papers on the proposed Indo-Japanese joint Lunar Mission, also by u/Ohsin.

India’s Human Spaceflight Programme Gaganyaan

Four Indians from the Air Force were selected to undergo astronaut training in Russia. Their identity has not been revealed yet. As India develops its own facilities Russia and India have agreed to co-operate on training and providing space suits for the astronauts.

There is a robotic “female” humanoid friend that will fly with the Indian astronauts called Vyommitra. We got a glimpse of her at IAA-ISRO-ASI Human Spaceflight Programme (Jan 22-24, 2020) .

NewSpace and Private Space

Indian company supplying satellites to foreign vendors. More Indian companies should work towards this.

Agnikul Aerospace raises INR 23.4 crores.

NewSpace India podcast

Narayan Prasad (NP) has been going strong with this podcast series. I have been trying to get myself to start a podcast but have failed at it so far.

Episode 15: with Vasudevan Mukunth, The Wire Science

Episode 16: with Dr. Siddharth Pandey, Amity CoE in Astrobiology

Episode 17: with Ramesh Nagasamudram and Govindarajan DS of Aniara Space. This episode explained and put into context the work that Astrome is doing.

Episode 18: with Tom and Sunil of Berlin Space Technologies and Azista Aerospace. Azista is based in Ahmedabad. They talk about India’s space manufacturing prowess.

Episode 19: with Kris Nair and the plan to operate a fleet of Earth Observation Satellites.

Episode 20: with Ajay Sarpeshkar, director of Mysore Masla.

Astrobiology Programme

Amity Center of Excellence (CoE) in Astrobiology hosted a two day workshop on Astrobiology. The Center has also built India’s first astrobiological payload with help from Satellize called the Amity Space Biology Experiment -1.

Policy Papers

Takshashila Institution


Ramaiah Public Policy Center, published in Current Science.


Kerala Space Conclave (YouTube video)

Unbounded: Video interview with the French Space Agency, CNES Director

Unbounded: Video interview with the Indo-German small satellite manufacturing firm

Somaiya Space Conclave - Facebook Live!

Education opportunities

IIST Summer Internship


Xiaomi to use NAVIC on its smartphones in India

Gurbir Singh, who hosts the AstroTalk UK podcast has written a book on Stephen Smith, in pre-independence India and experimented with rocket mail.

Pradeep’s Blog

Posts from my blog in the last 3 months about space:

  1. Paul Davies, February 29

  2. Astrobiology in India, January 31

  3. Planetary Radio on Asteroid Bennu descent, January 23

  4. Cixin Liu’s Three-Body Problem, January 22

  5. Reporting ISRO, January 18

  6. The Elon Musk book, January 7

Stay at Home, Stay Safe.

With best wishes,