India, which has already launched a constellation of satellites to operationalise indigenously built desi GPS (NavIC), will be working on furthering self-reliance while also pushing for global usage of Indian systems like the US’ GPS, a draft of the new policy on satellite navigation reveals.
The draft Indian Satellite Navigation Policy - 2021 (SATNAV Policy 2021), which TOI has reviewed, is part of the Department of Space’s (DoS) space reforms.
The policy aims to address and meet demands of space-based navigation and timing applications and advancements in the relevant technologies for self-sustenance in areas of commercial, strategic and societal applications, while also pushing Indian systems globally.
The four Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) — space-based navigation systems providing navigation signals across the globe — are US’ GPS; Russian GLONASS; EU’s Galileo and China’s BeiDou. There are also two regional navigation satellite systems: India’s NavIC and QZSS from Japan.
“Satellite based augmentation systems (SBAS) like US’ WAAS, EU’s EGNOS, Russian SDCM and Chinese SNAS/BDSSBAS, augment navigation satellite constellations by providing integrity and correction information via geostationary satellites. India has also established a SBAS system: GPS-Aided Geo Augmented Navigation (GAGAN) for the Indian airspace,” DoS said.
The DoS will now push NavIC for global use by “working towards facilitating global usage of Indian satellite navigation and augmentation systems.” For this, India will work towards making Indian satellite navigation and augmentation signals more compatible and interoperable with other GNSS/SBAS signals.
“...DoS shall continue to work towards necessary co-ordination with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for frequency allocation for broadcasting navigation and augmentation signals,” the policy reads.
Aside from ITU, India will also engage other multilateral fora — the UN Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS), International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), International Maritime Organisation (IMO), etc — and in bilateral discussions to safeguard and to further the interests of Indian navigation and augmentation signals.
K Sivan, secretary, DoS, told TOI: “This policy has a wide scope as uses of SATNAV are spread across the spectrum. Therefore, we want the entire country to participate and build newer applications and technologies, while DoS will work with international agencies to push NavIC for global use. We’ll encourage private participation in line with PM Modi’s vision.”
The DoS, which hopes to achieve self-reliance with emphasis on ensuring availability and quality, enhancing usage, working towards progressive evolution of the services, will also promote Indian industry and academia to carry out R&D and eventually indulge in productionisation.
Over the decades, there has been a phenomenal growth in applications — both civilian and strategic — that rely on Position, Velocity and Time (PVT) services provided by space-based navigation systems, especially with the advent of information and mobile phone technology that has made crores of users across India rely heavily on PVT applications.
Isro will provide technical support for academic institutions in GNSS research and applications, while also organising regular interactions among users, industry to synergise R&D activities and end-use deployment.
“DoS shall explore possibilities of international collaboration to evolve satellite navigation based applications for societal benefits and aid in promoting indian Industry and academia to support these endeavours,” the policy reads.