India Gearing to Set Up Indian Data Relay Satellite System

In News

India is planning to establish its own space-to-space tracking and communication of its space assets using by putting in place a new series of satellite system called the Indian Data Relay Satellite System (IDRSS).


  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is gearing to set up IDRSS this year with the launch of new satellites.
  • These satellites will track and communicate constantly with Indian satellites, especially those that are in the low-earth orbit and have limited coverage of earth.
  • The IDRSS is a part of ISRO’s roadmap which involves LEO missions like space docking, space station, and outer space expeditions like missions to the moon, Mars and Venus.
  • As per ISRO, IDRSS will also be useful for tracking launches.
  • The first beneficiary of IDRSS will be the crew members of the Gaganyaan Mission.
  • The crew members can be constantly in touch with the ground stations and there will be 100% full visibility.

Work In Progress

  • As per ISRO, work on two IDRSS satellites has already begun.
  • The first satellite will be launched at the end of 2020.
  • The launch will precede the pre-Gaganyaan experimental unmanned space flight which will have a humanoid dummy in it.
  • The second satellite will be placed in orbit in 2021.
  • The two satellites track, send and receive information from the crew 24/7.
  • The coverage will be near-total.

Other Countries

  • Space major nations like the USA and Russia started their space relay program in the late 1970s-80s.
  • Each country has around 10 satellites now.
  • They used the satellites to monitor their space stations Mir and the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope.

IDRSS Satellite Specifications

  • The satellites will be in the 2,000kg class.
  • They will be launched on the GSLV launcher.
  • The satellites will be placed in the geostationary orbits (GEO) around 36,000km away from the surface of the earth.
  • In GEO orbits, the satellites will be facing a fixed area on the earth all the time.
  • One GEO satellite can cover a third of the world and three such satellites will provide complete coverage.

Need for IDRSS

  • To track the human launch mission and the crew craft that travels at a distance of 400
  •  Km from the earth, a dedicated ground station is a must.
  • The existing ground stations are not sufficient for the task.
  • ISRO would have to build a series of ground stations everywhere or hire them across the globe.
  • This is a costly affair and hence the need for relay satellites.
  • Also, with ground stations, complete tracking of the craft is unlikely.
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