India to expand NaVIC

India is planning to expand the regional satellite navigation system NavIC.

Key facts

  • The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) is currently planning to expand the Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC).
  • It had sought the government’s permission to launch 12 additional satellites into the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) for this purpose. Placing NavIC satellites in MEO will make them global like GPS.
  • Currently, NavIC satellites are either in geostationary or geosynchronous (GEO) orbit (36,000 km from Earth). The MEO orbits occupy space between GEO and Low Earth Orbit (250-2,000 km from Earth).
  • Several of the satellites in the current NavIC constellation are not operational.
  • ISRO is planning to replace at least five of these existing satellites with L-1, L-5, and S-Band, which will provide improved global positioning services.
  • The NavIC satellites are currently operating in L-5 Band and S Band, which are used only for transportation and aviation sectors.
  • The inclusion of the L-1 band in the new satellite would help NavIC become easily accessible to civilians
  • The new satellites will have improved features for securing communication. Currently, NavIC only provides short code. The improved version will provide long code so that communications are not breached while being used for strategic and security purposes.

About NavIC

NavIC is an independent stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by ISRO. It was operationalized in 2018 with 7 satellites covering the whole of the Indian landmass and up to 1,500 km from the international boundaries. It is currently being used for public vehicle tracking, providing emergency warning alerts for fishermen sailing to the deep sea, and tracking information related to natural disasters. With NavIC, India is one of the few countries having its own positioning system. Others with their own navigation satellite systems are Russia (GLONASS), the European Union (Galileo), and China (BeiDou Navigation Satellite System).

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