With Indian satellites sporting mixed payloads for varied users perhaps the space agency has decided to opt for a generic name for its earth observation satellites, said a satellite expert. He also added that satellite names should not be changed prior to the launch as it may result in problems at a later stage.
Recently, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) decided to change the name of its radar imaging satellite RISAT-2BR2 as EOS-01 standing for Earth Observation Satellite-01.
Till date ISRO has not officially told the nation that RISAT-2BR2 has been renamed as EOS-01 and the reasons for the same.
“Nowadays satellites have multiple payloads for varied users and hence a thematic satellite may be a misnomer and ISRO might have decided to go for a generic name,” M. Annadurai, who retired as Director, U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), formerly ISRO Satellite Centre, said.
“Naming of the satellite should be done at the start of the project so that traceability of the components is easy and the project documentation is complete,” he added.
Changing names of satellites at the time of launch could create problems at later stage if the satellite suffers some issues, said a former official of ISRO.
According to Annadurai, renaming of the satellites had happened earlier but the officials were serving for a long period of time and they knew everything about a project.
“Now officials are not expected for long period of time in a project. So, documentation assumes more importance. In case a satellite name gets changed then the documentation should be accordingly taken care of,” Annadurai added.
According to him, in the case of RISAT-2BR2 all process documents should be changed as there will not be continuity of personnel in the same project.
Interestingly the radar imaging satellite RISAT was first proposed to be named as ‘Sanjay’ after Sanjaya in Mahabharata who had the divine vision and narrated the happening in the battlefield to his blind King Dhritarashtra in the palace.
“I had proposed to name RISAT as ‘Sanjay’ after the character in the Indian epic Mahabharata. However, the idea was shot down,” Tapan Misra, Senior Advisor to ISRO and Adjunct Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kharagpur said.
It is learnt, India’s communication satellites too will be renamed and a former ISRO official said it could be something like CMS – communication satellite tagged with a serial number.
Be that as it may, renaming of satellites is not new for ISRO.
India first started naming its satellites after Aryabhatta-famous mathematician-astronomer- and mathematicians Bhaskara I, Bhaskara II and star Rohini.
According to ISRO officials, the owing to some political thinking ISRO changed its satellite naming policy and went for generic or thematic.
The remote sensing or earth observation satellites were than badged as Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite.
After sending some IRS satellites, ISRO opted for thematic names for its earth observation satellites like Cartosat for cartography satellites, RISAT for radar imaging and Oceansat.
Renaming over the years…
The country’s first communication satellite was name as Ariane Passenger PayLoad Experiment, APPLE. Curiously the satellite sported the foreign rocket’s name -Ariane.
Later the communication satellites were named as Indian National Satellite System or INSAT series of satellites and then as GSAT for geostationary satellites.
Incidentally, GSAT-3 is also called EDUSAT-a satellite dedicated for education. In the space segment the satellite was called GSAT-3 and in the ground segment it was called EDUSAT, Annadurai recalled.
In 2003, meteorological satellite MetSat was renamed as Kalpana-1 in memory of Kalpana Chawla, the US astronaut with Indian roots died in the space shuttle Columbia disaster.
In the recent past, the Indian satellite navigation system originally called Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) was renamed as NavIC — taking the first three letters from the word navigation and first two letters from the words ‘Indian Constellation’. The word ‘navik’ also means ‘sailor’ in Sanskrit.