India’s most powerful satellite GSAT-11 launched successfully

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BENGALURU, Dec 5 (PTI): India’s heaviest satellite GSAT-11, that would boost broadband services in the country, was successfully launched by an Arianespace rocket from French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.

Blasting off from the Ariane Launch Complex in Kourou, a French territory located along the northeastern coast of South America, at 02:07 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected the GSAT-11 into orbit in a flawless flight of about 33 minutes.

“ISRO’s heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the spaceport in French Guiana during the early hours today,” the Bengaluru-headquartered Indian space agency said.

The ISRO hired Ariane-5 rocket as its own geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle GSLV MK III can only haul satellites that weighs upto 4 tonnes.

GSAT-11 has been described as India’s “richest space asset” by the ISRO.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the ISRO on the successful launch and called it a “major milestone” for the country’s space programme, which would transform the lives of crores of Indians by connecting remote areas.

“Congrats to @isro for the successful launch of GSAT-11, which is the heaviest, largest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite of India,” he tweeted.

“India is proud of our scientists, who keep innovating and setting high standards of scale, achievements and success. Their remarkable work inspires every Indian. @isro,” he said in another tweet.

After a 30-minute flight, GSAT-11, the 34th communication satellite built by the ISRO, separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.

The achieved orbit was very close to the intended one, it said.

“The heaviest, largest and most powerful satellite ever built by India is successfully launched by Ariane-5,” ISRO Chairman K Sivan said at the launch complex, describing GSAT-11 as the “richest space asset”for India.

Weighing about 5,854 kg, the next generation “high throughput” communication satellite GSAT-11 is the “heaviest” satellite built by the ISRO and has a designed life span of more than 15 years.

GSAT-11, the top-of-the-line communication satellite in ISRO’s portfolio, is capable of providing high bandwidth connectivity with speeds of up to 16 gigabytes per second.

Post-separation, ISRO’s Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka took over the command and control of GSAT-11 and found its health parameters normal, the ISRO said in a statement here.

The satellite is initially placed in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and will be raised to the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) through phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres in the days ahead, using its on-board propulsion systems.

GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit, the ISRO said, adding that subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of the satellite will be deployed in orbit.

The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

According to the ISRO, GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band.

Calling the satellite a forerunner in a series of advanced communications satellites with multi-spot beam antenna coverage over Indian mainland and islands, it said GSAT-11 will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and also be a platform to demonstrate new generation applications.

GSAT-11 is going to be the “richest space asset” for India, Sivan said.

“It is going to provide something like 16 GBPS data link services to the country.

It is the third in a series of four satellites aimed achieving the government’s ambitious target to provide high data connectivity of 100 GBPS in the country under the Digital India Mission,” he added.

According to the ISRO, GSAT-11 would provide high data connectivity to users across India, broadband connectivity to gram panchayats under the BharathNet project and support high data rate applications for enterprise network and consumer broadband applications.

GSAT-11 was initially planned for launch on May 25, but was rescheduled with the ISRO, citing the need for additional technical checks, recalling it for tests.

Sivan thanked Arianespace for making it possible for the ISRO to achieve the launch this year itself.

The Ariane-5 vehicle (Flight VA246) also carried GEO-KOMPSAT-2A for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), along with GSAT-11.

The 3,507.20 kg GEO-KOMPSAT-2A is designed to conduct meteorological and space weather monitoring missions.

Since the launch of India’s APPLE experimental satellite on Ariane Flight L03 in 1981, it has orbited 22 satellites under contracts with the Indian space agency, Arianespace said, adding that two more satellites, GSAT-31 and GSAT-30, were in the order book. The space agency is in the process of developing launchers that can put its heavy spacecrafts to orbit from within the country.

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