Explained: Why you could soon be checking your location on NavIC instead of GPS

India got its system with the launch of the IRNSS 1-G satellite, is the seventh member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), in November 2017. (Source: ISRO)

The navigation system that Indians use on their mobile phones and cars could be set for a reboot. It has been reported that Bengaluru-based Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) is in talks with processing chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to substitute the existing Global Positioning System (GPS) with the Indian version of satellite navigation. The Indian positioning system is called Navigation with Indian Constellation (NavIC).

Is India the only country to have its positioning system?

No. The GPS is a satellite-based radio navigation system that is owned by the United States government and operated by the United States Air Force. Apart from GPS, there is GLONASS of Russia, Galileo of the European Union and BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (or BDS) of China.

When did India get its navigation system?

India got its system with the launch of the IRNSS 1-G satellite, is the seventh member of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), in November 2017. Its launch completed a constellation of satellites in geosynchronous and geostationary orbits that gave Indian civilian and military users, and their partners, access to a dedicated satellite navigation system that was not be dependent on foreign governments or suppliers. The total cost of the IRNSS mission Rs 1,420 crore.

What are the details about the Indian satellite?

The seventh of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS). Like its six predecessors, the IRNSS-1G had a lift-off mass of 1,425 kg. All 7 satellites are configured identically. All IRNSS launches used the most powerful XL version of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, equipped with 6 strap-ons, each with 12 tonnes of propellant. Three of the 7 satellites are located in suitable orbital slots in geostationary orbit; remaining four are in geosynchronous orbits with the required inclination and equatorial crossings in two different planes.

What are the applications of IRNSS?

The IRNSS can provide Standard Positioning Service (SPS) to all users, and an encrypted Restricted Service (RS) to authorised users. The IRNSS has a position accuracy better than 20 metres in the primary service area. It can help in terrestrial, aerial and marine navigation; disaster management; vehicle tracking and fleet management; integration with mobile phones; precise timing; mapping and geodetic data capture; terrestrial navigation aid for hikers and travellers; visual and voice navigation for drivers.

What is the service coverage?

The regional navigation satellite system can provide accurate position information service to users in India and the region, extending up to 1,500 km from its boundary, which is its Primary Service Area. Beyond that lies an Extended Service Area, that can extend up to the edges of the area enclosed by the rectangle imagined by latitudes 30 degrees South and 50 degrees North, and longitudes 30 degrees East and 130 degrees East.