Thursday, Mar 03, 2005
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By N. Gopal Raj
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, MARCH 2. India is planning a regional satellite navigation system, similar to the Global Positioning System (GPS) of the United States.
The GPS, with a constellation of 24 orbiting satellites, serves the needs of the U.S. military. Using radio signals from GPS satellites that are overhead, a GPS receiver can compute its position with great accuracy anywhere in the world. After free access was given to less accurate GPS signals, its use has proliferated into a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.
India is likely to participate in either Galileo, the European-led effort to create an alternative to the GPS system, or GLONASS, the Russian military's equivalent of GPS.
The Europeans are touting Galileo as a civilian-controlled alternative to users worldwide. China joined the programme last year. A lack of funds has crippled GLONASS, which has only half the required operational satellites.
Totally under control
India wants to set up the "Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System" (IRNSS), that would be totally under its control. Under the other systems, denial of access to satellite signals or the degrading of signal accuracy, especially in a conflict situation, remains a distinct possibility.
When implemented, the IRNSS would provide positional accuracy similar to the GPS system for 1,500 km around the country, according to the Notes on Demands for Grants from the Department of Space. A configuration with eight satellites was being studied, say officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
In addition, ISRO and the Airports Authority of India are jointly establishing a GPS augmentation system for navigation and precision landing of aircraft over India.
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