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NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation)

What is Navigation with Indian Constellation

  • About: The Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), with an operational name of NavIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation; also, nāvik ‘sailor’ or ‘navigator’ in Indian languages)?, is an independent stand-alone navigation satellite system developed by the ISRO.
  • Timeline: Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC) was originally approved in 2006. It was expected to be completed by late 2011, but only became operational in 2018.
  • Constellation: It consists of a constellation of 8 satellites located at approximately 36,000 Km. Currently, 7 satellites are active.
  • Coverage:
    • Primary service area: This region extends up to 1500 kms from the boundaries of Indian landmass. The IRNSS System is expected to provide a position accuracy of better than 20 m in the primary service area.
    • Extended Service Area: Lies between primary service area and area enclosed by the rectangle from Latitude 30° S to 50° N, Longitude 30° E to 130°
  • Services: IRNSS provides two types of services:
    • Standard Positioning Service (SPS): This service is provided to all the users.
    • Restricted Service (RS): This is an encrypted service and much more accurate (in the range of 1 to 5 meters), and meant for defense applications and use by armed forces.
  • Current usage: Currently, Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC), use is limited. It is being used in public vehicle tracking in India, for providing emergency warning alerts to fishermen venturing into the deep sea where there is no terrestrial network connectivity, and for tracking and providing information related to natural disasters.
global navigation systems
global navigation systems

Comparison of Navigation with Indian Constellation with other global navigation systems:

  • Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC) v/s GPS
    • Coverage: GPS caters to users across the globe and its satellites circle the earth twice a day, while Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC) is currently for use in India and adjacent areas.
    • Satellite constellation: GPS requires 24 Satellites to be operational and has around 31 satellites in orbit. All of these are Geosynchronous Satellites. On the other hand, NavIC has 3 Geostationary satellites and 4 geosynchronous satellites, and these satellites are situated in much higher orbit (signal is less prone to obstructions).
    • Accuracy: Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC) satellites use dual frequency bands (L5-band and S-band), which is why the system is relatively more accurate than GPS (that uses a single band and makes compensation for error due to signal deterioration by the atmosphere).
    • Interoperability: NAVIC’s interoperability with GPS can ensure the minimization of technical snags when used complementarity with existing GPS-enabled solutions.
  • Comparison with other navigation systems
(NavIC) v/s GPS
(NavIC) v/s GPS

Significance of Navigation with Indian Constellation(NavIC) for India

  • Strategic significance: It will help to reduce dependence on foreign satellite systems for navigation services, particularly for strategic sectors. It will make Indian Armed Forces self-reliant.
  • Neighbourhood relations: With the provision of extended coverage, one of the stated future use of the project includes sharing of the project with the SAARC nations. This will help in integrating the regional navigation system further and strengthening our “Neighbourhood First” policy.
  • Net security provider: Having a global navigation system bolsters the ability of a nation to serve as a net security provider.
  • E.g. GPS played a significant role in relief efforts post disasters such as the tsunami in the Indian Ocean region in 2004 and the Pakistan-India earthquake in 2005, and has delivered significant strategic and economic benefits to the US.
  • Food and livelihood security: Through land-area mapping, yield monitoring and precision-planting of crops, NAVIC allows for the development of civic capabilities in food and livelihood security.
  • Scientific advancement: In addition to its civilian and military applications, it will contribute to the advancement of science and technology.


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