IRNSS - NAVIC [Science & Tech for UPSC]

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its commercial wing ANTRIX developed the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System or IRNSS with its operational name of NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation). It is a Navigation Satellite System that will provide accurate real-time positioning and timing services over India and the region around the country.

The IRNSS – NAVIC topic can be related to multiple sections of the UPSC Syllabus; Science and Technology of General Studies paper-3, and Current Affairs

Aspirants should begin their preparation by solving UPSC Previous Year Question Papers now!!

To complement your preparation for the upcoming exam, check the following links:

What is NavIC?

  1. It is an Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System or IRNSS.
  2. It was developed in India by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and its commercial wing ANTRIX.
  3. It consists of 8 satellites located at a distance of approximately 36,000 Km. Currently, 7 satellites are active.
    • 3 satellites are in Geostationary Orbit (GEO)
    • 5 satellites are in inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (GSO)
  4. The objective of the NavIC is to provide navigation, timing, and reliable positioning services in and around India.
  5. Working of the NavIC is very similar to the Global Positioning System(GPS) implemented by the United States. 
  6. The NavIC is certified by 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) which is responsible for coordinating mobile telephony standards globally.

Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS)

  1. It is an independent regional navigational satellite system developed by India.
  2. Objective:
    • It is being designed to give precise position data service to users located in India and also to users in the area out-spreading up to 1500 Km from India’s boundary.
  3. The two kinds of services provided by IRNSS will be: 
    • Standard Positioning Service (SPS) and 
    • Restricted Service (RS). 
  4. The system can offer a position accuracy of more than 20 m within India which is the primary area of service.

The IRNSS is being constructed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and is wholly under the Indian government’s control. The need for such a system of navigation is that the availability of global satellite navigation systems like the GPS is not assured in hostile conditions.

Commercialization of NavIC

  1. Antrix, the commercial arm of ISRO has floated two separate tenders to identify industries that can develop dedicated NavIC-based hardware and systems.
  2. Suitable device manufacturers are being identified along with integrators of NavIC-based systems.
  3. NAVIC is being commercialized for the following reasons :
    • Navigation (Aerial, marines and terrestrial)
    • Maps (Charting, Plotting and Geodetic data capture)
    • Disaster Management 
    • Fleet Management and Vehicle Tracking (important during mining and transport operations)
    • Mobile phone integration
    • Precise timing (useful for power grids and ATMs)
  4. The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has mandated that all national-permit vehicles must have such tracking devices. As a pilot, many fishing boats have been fitted with these devices that have a unique texting facility.
  5. The 3GPP certification will allow multiple possibilities of further commercialization of NavIC.

Click on the link to get the List of Indian Satellites for UPSC.

NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) 2019

There are a few recent developments in the NAVIC (Navigation with Indian Constellation) according to ISRO:

  1. The leading semiconductor manufacturer Qualcomm Technologies Inc. developed and tested NavIC-friendly chipsets.
  2. This will help NAVIC support upcoming Automotive, Mobile and IoT applications and platforms.
  3. The collaboration will enable superior location-based services to India’s industries and technology ecosystem.


Parameter NavIC GPS
Accuracy Up to 5 meters Up to 20-30 meters
Frequency S-band and L-Band L- Band

The use of dual-frequency, both S and L Frequency Bands makes NavIC independent of using any delay-causing frequency models to detect frequency error.

Countries with their own Navigation Satellite System

Some of the countries provide navigation systems on a global scale, some of them provide navigation on a regional scale. The following countries have their own navigation satellite system.

  1. The United States Global Positioning System (GPS) – World’s most used GPS system, operational from 1978. Constellation of 32 satellites.
  2. Russian GLONASS – It provides global coverage. It has a total of 26 satellites.
  3. European Union Galileo – Became operational in 2016, with a constellation of 30 satellites.
  4. Chinese BeiDou – Currently it provides regional coverage of the Asia- Pacific region, plans to provide global coverage by 2020. It has a total of 35 satellites.
  5. Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) – It is a regional satellite system covering Japan and the Asia-Oceania region. It has a total of 4 satellites, 7 are planned.
  6. India (IRNSS-NAVIC) – Constellation of 8 Satellites.

Candidates can refer to the Previous Year’s Science and Technology Questions in UPSC Mains GS 3, from the linked article.

IRNSS – NAVIC:- Download PDF Here

FAQ about IRNSS Navic


Is Irnss and NavIC same?

IRNSS was renamed as Navigation Indian Constellation (NAVIC) in 2016.

Is NavIC fully operational?

Yes, NaVIC is fully operational. NavIC is capable of providing accurate position information service to users across India and the region extending up to 1,500 km around the country.

Also, to read Semi Cryogenic Technology for Gaganyaan: RSTV – In-Depth, CLICK HERE

Related Links

Space Debris: RSTV – In Depth Chandrayaan 2 Mission
Indian spacecraft- UPSC Science and Technology Militarisation of space UPSC Notes
Science and Technology UPSC MCQs List Of Space Centres & Indian Space Agencies



Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.