Up above the world so high,
tracking satellites in the sky
Oct 20 (IANS) S.K. Shivakumar is 55 years old. For 32 years
out of that, he has been the eyes and ears of the Indian Space
Research Organisation (ISRO).
has lost count of the number of satellites he has tracked,
but he thinks he is nearing his half century.
the director, ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network
(Istrac), he is eagerly awaiting the Wednesday morning launch
of India's first lunar orbiter Chandrayaan, so that he can
start tracking it in slow motion.
some days the tracking antenna would move just 0.1 milidegree
per second. One will not see the antenna movement but it would
have moved," he told IANS on phone from Bangalore.
the case of remote sensing or communication satellites, the
tracking antenna moves 0.4 degree per second.
had to design the moon satellite's antenna's gearing ratio
accordingly," Shivakumar added.
triple degree holder - B.Sc, BE and M.Tech - Shivakumar was
given four years to build the tracking antennas for the lunar
mission, and was initially apprehensive about the tight deadline.
he and his team are not only ready on time, they have tested
all their equipment by tracking SELENE, a Japanese spacecraft
orbiting the moon now.
ground segment of the Chandrayaan mission mainly consists
of Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN), Spacecraft Control Centre
(SCC) and the Indian Space Science Data Centre (ISSDC).
Rs.1 billion IDSN that receives the radio signals from Chandrayaan
and sends commands back consists of two large parabolic antennas
- of 18-metre and 32-metre diameter.
larger antenna, located in Byalalu - 35 km from Bangalore
- is indigenously designed, developed, built, installed, tested
the 18 metre antenna can support the present lunar mission,
the bigger antenna can support spacecraft missions well beyond
SSC located near the Istrac campus is the focal point of all
the operational activities of Chandrayaan.
third ground control element, also located at Byalalu, receives,
stores, processes, archives, retrieves and distributes the
scientific information received from ISDN and other external
stations supporting India's moon mission.
the Istrac officials the thrill and challenge is tracking
a satellite that did not enter its intended orbit.
Shivakumar: "When Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) 1D got
into lower orbit then what was planned, it was a challenge
to push the satellite into a manageable orbit. Recently we
had a bash when the satellite completed a decade in operation."
to him the other memorable experience was the tracking and
recovery of the space capsule from the time it was launched
and till it splashed into the sea.
can proudly claim that Istrac played a major role in bringing
the capsule back, tracking it with networks on land within
and without India and also in ships and helicopters."
into a big family - he has five sisters - Shivakumar's father
was a Karnataka state government employee.
two daughters are engineers. His wife Girija - an expert in
crystallography, an experimental science of arranging atoms
in solids - teaches in a Bangalore college.