Space diplomacy of India reached a different level with a unique gift in the sky to South Asian neighbours, barrring the arch-rival Pakistan, which has opted out on suspicions of espionage or space watching.
The gift of a communications satellite for use by neighbours at no cost has perhaps no precedent worldwide and each country can get one transponder to beam its own TV channel or program.
The South Asia satellite weighs over 2 tonnes, has been fabricated in three years at a cost of over Rs.230 crore, slightly less than the Mangalyaan or Mars Orbit Mission. It will have its footprint extending all over South Asia from Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India’s neighbours can utilise to increase communications. It also facilitates DTH television, VSAT links, tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support.
Besides, the South Asia satellite will provide critical communication links in times of disasters such as earthquakes, cyclones, floods, and tsunamis and help prevent the monumental damage.
Heads of Government from all the seven South Asian nations who are benefiting from the satellite, connected via video conference, in a unique celebration of the successful launch on Friday, May 5, 2017.
Launched aboard India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV-F09, the 2230 kg South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9) was lofted into its planned Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO).
The GSLV launch was ISRO’s 11th in series and took place from the Second Launch Pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This is the fourth consecutive success achieved by GSLV, with indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage.
In its oval shaped GTO, the South Asia Satellite is orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,105 km with an orbital inclination of 20.65 deg with respect to the equator, said ISRO.
Lauding the launch, PM Narendra Modi said, “The South Asia Satellite tells us that even the sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation among like-minded countries.” The Prime Minister recalled that two years ago India made a promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of the people of South Asia and felt that the successful launch of South Asia Satellite on Friday marks a fulfillment of that.
In the coming days, the satellite orbit will be raised from its present GTO to the final circular Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in stages.
The South Asia Satellite will be commissioned into service after the completion of orbit raising operations and the satellite’s positioning in its designated slot in the GSO following in-orbit testing of its payloads.