It helped in reducing movement of personnel to Sriharikota

It helped in reducing movement of personnel to Sriharikota

After the successful 51st mission of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from Sriharikota on Saturday, the new virtual launch control centre established at the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC) at Thumba here is likely to become a permanent arrangement for future missions.

The facility has helped the space agency reduce movement of personnel to Sriharikota — given the COVID-19 scenario — and manage crucial aspects of the mission from Thiruvananthapuram, which is home to three critical India Space Research Organisation centres.

A replica of the control centre at Sriharikota, the virtual facility had allowed the ISRO to remotely carry out system checkouts on the launch vehicle from Thiruvananthapuram in the run-up to the PSLV-C49 mission. On Saturday, the facility was manned by around 50 personnel from the VSSC and the ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (IISU), a VSSC official said.

While the actual launch operations on Saturday were carried out by a team of essential personnel in Sriharikota, many senior hands stayed back in Thiruvananthapuram for providing crucial advice and analysis of the various parameters through the facility.

“Primarily, it helped to reduce movement of ISRO personnel and, consequently, travel expenses,” said VSSC Director S. Somanath, one of the few senior hands who travelled to Sriharikota for Saturday’s mission.

The virtual facility itself had been in the works for some time, but the pandemic gave it momentum, Mr. Somanath said.

Overall, the number of ISRO personnel customarily travelling to Sriharikota for a mission was slashed by one-fourth this time. The PSLV-C49 mission also proved how the ISRO has managed to adapt to the pandemic-induced new normal. Important reviews, such as the Mission Readiness Reviews (MRR), usually held at Bengaluru or Sriharikota, were held in videoconference mode to ensure minimal movement of personnel.

The PSLV-C49, the 51st PSLV flight, placed the EOS-01 and nine commercial satellites in orbit.