India has given a boost to self-reliance in safeguarding its space assets with ISRO System for Safe and Sustainable Space Operation and Management (IS4OM). Union Minister of State for Space Jitendra Singh would inaugurate the IS4OM here on Monday, in the presence of Secretary in the Department of Space and Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation S Somanath.
IS40M is a system conceived with a holistic approach towards ensuring safety and sustainability of the space environment while reaping the benefits of sustainable utilisation of outer space for national development, according to ISRO.
”It’s part of the space situational awareness (SSA) programme to identify space debris and monitor them”, an ISRO official told PTI.
”It’s to identify the potential collision of our active satellites with other space objects and avoid collisions with proper maneuvering to save our space assets (satellites),” he said.
Sources in the Bengaluru-headquartered space agency said concurrent processing of data from the observational facilities for space objects’ orbit determination, correlation and catalogue generation will take place here.
In addition, as part of IS4OM, dedicated labs have also been set up for space debris mitigation and remediation, compliance verification of UN/Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) guidelines and various R&D activities. The R&D activities encompass space object fragmentation and break up modelling, space debris population and micrometeoroid environment modeling, and Near Earth Objects, among others.
”IS4OM will boost our self-reliance (‘atmanirbharata’) in protecting our own space assets and also meeting UN directions on Debris management”, a top ISRO official said.
Sharing its ”Space Situational Assessment 2021” in global perspective in March this year, ISRO said growing collision threats of space objects including orbital debris with the operational space assets have become a perennial problem for the safe and sustainable use of outer space. ”These threats restrict the unhindered access to space and prompt all space actors to take appropriate measures to mitigate them”, it had said. Currently, millions of pieces of space debris together with thousands of operational satellites are orbiting the Earth at different altitudes above the Earth. Space debris consists of rocket bodies that are used to launch satellites, defunct satellites, materials released during mission operations, fragments from on-orbit breakups of space objects, and fragments from Anti-Satellite (ASAT) tests. These space objects move with an average speed of 27,000 km per hour in Low Earth Orbits; therefore, a collision with even a centimetre sized tiny fragment can be catastrophic to an operational space asset.
These orbiting space debris pose a threat to about 3,000 operational satellites presently in orbit, used for critical modern communication, commerce, travel and security systems. Any damage, even minor, to the operational space assets will have cascading impacts on many vital systems including communication, finance, power, transportation, time scheduling and critical defence-related aspects, it had said. Many state-of-the-art defence technologies such as drones, guided missiles, intelligence data collections, encrypted communications and navigation would be limited or can become inoperable with functionally crippled satellite systems, it was noted. In December 2020, ISRO inaugurated a dedicated control centre for SSA activities, aimed at monitoring, tracking and protecting India’s space assets.
ISRO SSA Control Centre, ‘NETRA’ (NEtwork for space object TRacking and Analysis), envisaged to function as a hub of all SSA activities within India, was set up within the ISTRAC (ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network) campus at Peenya here.
ISRO had taken up the establishment of Space Surveillance and Tracking network with radars and optical telescopes under the project NETRA.
”To analyse and assess the potential threats to operational spacecraft and to attain self-reliance in safeguarding the valuable space assets, it is essential to augment and expand the network of observational facilities,” it had said. ”This (SSA) control centre is the building with other facilities”, the ISRO official said. ”Control room/ lab with consoles, software, displays which is the operational system, which is realised within the control centre, will be inaugurated on Monday.”