GSAT-9, the South Asia Satellite, India’s gift to its neighbors, was launched by GSLV-F09 on Friday, May 05, 2017 from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh and injected into the orbit in a flawless flight; with the primary objective to provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries. Marking a new era in regional communication and integration, Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), with the successful launch of this satellite, put India’s space diplomacy into the orbit which India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had desired three years ago. This Geostationary Communication Satellite-9 (GSAT-9) will provide telecommunication links between India and its six neighboring countries and allow these countries to use its benefits which leaders from the member nations of the project acknowledged.
Salient features of GSAT-9, the South Asia Satellite are as under:
- South Asia Satellite, ISRO’s latest communication satellite GSAT-9 called SAS was launched atop a 50-meter tall rocket, the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) on its 11th flight. It weighs 414 kg and will use an indigenous cryogenic engine.
- GSAT-9 is configured around the ISRO’s standard I-2K bus. With lift off mass of 2230 kg the main structure of the satellite is cuboids in shape built around a central cylinder.
- ISRO built it in over three years at a cost of Rs 235 crore. Its mission life is 12 years and the project costs over Rs 450 crore including launch cost and other variable
- The two solar arrays of GSAT-9 consisting of Ultra Triple Junction solar cells generate about 3500 Watts of electrical power. Sun and Earth sensors as well as gyroscopes provide orientation reference for the satellite. The Altitude and Orbit Control System (AOCS) of the satellite maintains its orientation with the help of momentum wheels, magnetic torquers and thrusters. The satellite’s propulsion system consists of a Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) and chemical thrusters using liquid propellants for initial orbit raising and station keeping. The satellite also carries plasma thrusters, assisting in station keeping.
- The satellite, India’s gift to its neighbors, reflects Modi government’s neighborhood first policy, will connect it with six other countries of South Asia. It will provide telecommunication links among India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
- Each nation will get access to at least one transponder. India said it was ready to help them with the ground infrastructur
- Each country can beam its own TV programmes while there will be possibility for a common South Asia programming.
- The satellite has put into space 12 Ku Band transponders, devices that help in communication. It will provide a host of applications and services: TV, DTH, Tele-education, Tele-medicine, VSATs and disaster management support, besides giving India a secure hotline with the countries that can be used during disaster management and other emergencies.
- In its oval shaped Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO), the South Asia Satellite is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,105 km with an orbital inclination of 20.65 degree with respect to the equator.
- The satellite operations and control will be carried out from ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka and that in the coming few weeks the satellite will reach its destination-geostationary orbit.
Sheikh Hasina congratulating the Govt. of India for this successful launch, said it will “change the face of South Asia”, the cooperation among the South Asian nations has expanded from land, water, air to space, she added.
TsheringTobgay said, launch of this satellite, our satellite, augurs well for our region and for nations like Bhutan and added that it is for the first time in the history that a country is launching a satellite for an entire region.
Abdulla Yameen said Modi’s “sabka saath sabka vikas” is an ideal template for the South Asian integration and added that this launch is an example of India’s neighborhood first policy.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, popularly known as ‘Prachanda’, said his country would benefit immensely from the satellite and added that,”we must work for common good, better economic opportunities”.
Maithripala Srisena said the development signifies inclusiveness and friendly cooperation and hoped that this initiative will support people, enhance economic conditions & help eliminate poverty.
Pakistan opted out of the project saying it has its “own space programme”. Pakistan has five satellites but lacks heavy duty launchers and satellite fabrication facilities.