Mumbai: With the launch of the seventh and last satellite of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) on Thursday, India joined a select club of countries with their own global positioning systems.
ISRO officials said the navigation system had become essential because access to foreign government-controlled global navigation satellite systems could be restricted in hostile situations leading to complete collapse of certain services.
Despite the existence of global systems like the US Global Positioning System (GPS), Russian Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS), European Union's Galileo and China's Beidou, India’s ISRO started the IRNSS in 1999 after the Kargil War.
When Pakistani troops took positions in Kargil, one of the first things Indian military sought was GPS data for the region. The space-based navigation system maintained by the US government denied India access to vital information.
The IRNSS envisages establishment of a regional navigation system using a combination of geostationary earth orbit (GEO) and geosynchronous orbit (GSO) satellites. The IRNSS constellation comprises three GEO and four GSO satellites. It will provide two types of services — Standard Positioning Services (SPS), provided to all users, and Restricted Services (RS), provided to authorised users.
While IRNSS was already operational with the first four satellites, the remaining three were required to make it “more accurate and efficient”, said ISRO officials.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the new service will be known as “NAVIC” as a mark of tribute to courageous Indian boatmen who, ages ago, would reach their unknown destinations using the navigation of stars and the speed of moon and sun.
“Now we are going to do this with the help of science and technology,” he said, adding that the world will know this as “NAVIC” as a mark of tribute to the poor fishermen of the country who have set an age-old tradition of courage.