Dr. Venkitachalam Venkitakrishnan, Director ISRO (Retd.)
Head – Space
Dr. Venkitachalam Venkitakrishnan, (Retd.) ex Distinguished Scientist, Director CBPO, ISRO HQ, has a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering (Welding of Aluminium Alloys) from IIT Madras and MBA from Annamalai University.
He Joined ISRO in 1983, He worked in Mechanical And Material Entity – VSSC (Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre). He retired as the Director – Capacity Building Program Office (CBPO) at ISRO Headquarters in Bangalore in 2021. During his tenure at ISRO he also held various positions such as Deputy Director – Materials and Mechanical Entity of VSSC, Deputy Director (Materials and Manufacturing Entity) – Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Director – LPRC (Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre), Associate Director – VSSC and Deputy Director – Materials and Manufacturing in the prestigious GSLV MKIII project at VSSC.
He was awarded “ISRO individual merit award for excellence” for the year 2011 and “ISRO Performance Excellence award” for the year 2016. He has 38 years of experience in the Aerospace Materials & Manufacturing field. He has also contributed in the area of non-metallic materials like ceramic and glass ceramics, Thermal Barrier Coatings and high end insulation materials.
Dr. Venkitakrishnan has more than 100 publications in national and international journals and conferences. He also has associations such as Fellow of Institute of Engineers(India) FIE, Fellow of Indian Institute of Metals (IIM)-FIIM, Fellow of Aeronautical Society of India (FAeSI), Past President of IIM (Indian Institute of Metals) Trivandrum Chapter, Governing Council Member – AeSI (Aeronautical Society of India), National Council Member – IIM (Indian Institute of Metals), National Council Member – Institution of Engineers(India), Chairman, Aerospace Engineering Division Board, Institution of Engineers(I), Past National President and currently National Governing Council Member – SAME (Society of Aerospace Manufacturing Engineers), Trustee Member –SIATI(Society of Indian Aerospace Technologies and Industries).
An Overview into Space Business Segment
Space, the final frontier is critical for terrestrial communication systems. LEO is gaining importance with respect to satellite internet and low latency communication systems. Companies such as OneWeb, Amazon and SpaceX’s starlink are driving satellite internet penetration and are also targeting emerging nations to increase their respective marketshare. Satellite internet companies are planning to place thousands of satellites in LEO. LEO offers significant latency advantage when compared to other orbits and it is also the cheapest option. Satellite internet was initially very slow, but with technological advancements in the field of electronics and communication the capability of satellites has now improved significantly and connection speeds are near fibre level now. Satellite internet is also providing connectivity to remote location where laying tradition cables is impossible or costly. Remote locations in Brazil and Indonesia are connected by VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) by accessing geo stationary satellites. Though VSAT speed is very low, it ability to connect remote locations and maritime assets is seen as a critical factor.
SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites in LEO provide state of the art radar imagery which provides high resolution. SAR satellites with mechanical steer can capture images of a single location for a prolonged duration. The high resolution imaging capability provided by SAR satellites can reveal granular details of the specific target or target zone. Commercially available SAR satellites provided critical imagery support for enterprise and military leaders to aid them in crucial decision marking. While tradition optical imagery captures light reflected by the earth’s surface, SAR depends on radar technology. SAR satellites can capture images during day and in night. SAR satellites are not restricted by atmospheric condition such as cloud cover, smoke or dust. This make them useful for observation during natural calamities and disaster. SAR satellites typically operate in L-band, C- band and X- band frequencies. SAR start-ups have raised millions of dollars.
5G and 6G signals can be weakened or blocked by building and structures. Satellites can provide connectivity to the most remote locations. 5G satellites can fill the gaps and assure seamless communication to all the locations on the planet. 5G satellites can complement and extend the reach of terrestrial network. 5G satellites can also provide critical communication infrastructure to military operations in remote location. The increasing need for theatre command in modern warfare capability requires integration of Army, Navy and Airforce requires high bandwidth transfer of information between multiple platforms and combat units. Expeditionary and reconnaissance platoon can also stay connected by 5G tactical radios through 5G satellites, this will ensure situation awareness and operational effectiveness during covert missions.
Quantum communication ensure secure transfer of information from the sender to the receiver. There is no protection from eavesdropping and interception with the current communication through airwaves and cable network. The rise in quantum computing is enabling easy decryption of encrypted information within minutes. But in quantum communication, eavesdropping can be detected. Entangled photon can change polarisation when the communication is intercepted thus alerting the sender. Quantum communication systems using multiple satellites and ground station is expected to the future of secure quantum communication. This is due to the fact that photon travel much more smoothly in the vacuum of space when compared to the terrestrial conditions.
Increasing militarisation of space is also seen as an emerging threat. China’s new anti-satellite can attach itself to the thruster nozzle of a satellite and stay there without being detected. It can be commanded to explode causing the on-board equipment to malfunction. It is designed to create time controlled steady explosion without blowing the satellite to pieces and create debris. Russian S550 air defense missile is also expected to possess satellite killing capability but it has not been officially confirmed. India’s ASAT missile capable of destroying satellites has also been successfully tested. With all these development, space is expected to become a highly contested environment both militarily and commercially. Military forces accessing data of commercial satellites has also become a recent trend. SAR satellite data have been accessed by the U.S National Reconnaissance Office to identify and monitor hostile movements and also critical data about hostile stealth aircrafts. The office has signed an agreement with agreement with five commercial radar imagery providers such as Capella Space, Iceye U.S, PredaSAR, Umbra and Airbus. U.S space force is also planning its own fleet of tactical satellites for GMTI (Ground Moving Target indicator).