SRIHARIKOTA: When Pakistani troops took positions in Kargil in 1999, one of the first things Indian military sought was GPS data for the region. The space-based navigation system maintained by the US government would have provided vital information, but the US denied it to India. A need for an indigenous satellite navigation system was felt earlier, but the Kargil experience made the nation realise its inevitability.
On Friday, the Indian Space Research Organisation took the nation closer to the goal, which it would achieve in less than two years. The result, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) will be as good as any such space-based system, as India can keep a close watch of not just its boundaries, but up to 1,500km beyond that. It works on a combination of seven satellites which would ‘look’ at the region from different angles, and, in the process, helps calculate from relative data, real-time movement of objects by as less as 10m.