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India plans to have at least one rocket launch every month in 2018 from its spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh to deploy satellites in orbit, said a top space official on Tuesday. “We are planning to have at least one launch mission a month in 2018 to deploy satellites in the earth’s orbit for various applications,” said Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar.


“For 2018-19 and 2019-20 financial years, we are looking to receive increased budgets from the country in view of the missions,” he told media on the sidelines of the inauguration of a Gallery on Space Technology at the Visvesvaraya Industrial and Technological Museum here. ISRO was given a budget of about Rs 9,000 crore for 2017-18.


The first of the missions ahead is likely to be the launch of Cartosat-2E remote-sensing spacecraft along with 28 nano and micro-satellites in early January if delayed from December end. On Chandrayan-2 mission, Kiran Kumar said the work onArealising the satellite was in full swing. The launch is likely to take place by the first quarter of 2018.


Meanwhile, the state-run ISRO is also expected to fly 600kg spacecraft designed by TeamIndus on its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) before March 31, 2018, for the city-based firm to win the Google Lunar XPRIZE. “There are still a lot of discussions that are going on with TeamIndus regarding the launch,” the ISRO chief said.


TeamIndus is the only Indian team among the five finalists competing for the $30Amillion Google Lunar XPRIZE, a competition is meant to challenge and inspire engineers and entrepreneurs from around the world to develop low-cost methods of robotic space exploration.


Adressing a gathering of students at the opening of the space technology gallery, Kiran Kumar said: “You’re at the prime moment where India as a country is surging ahead. India has got every potential to be the number one in the world, for which each of you must put in your best efforts.” Astrosat, the country’s first space observatory, was one of the the best satellites in the category providingAIndian scientists with access to data about the edge of the universe, he said.


“It is never too late to do anything in science and technology. We can always make a mark. When we put in our best efforts, no one can beat us,” the ISRO head asserted. Former ISRO Chairman and National Education Policy Committee Chairman K. Kasturirangan, and National Council for Science Museums Director General A.S. Manekar were also present at the event.


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