ISRO’s GSLV launches ‘South Asia Satellite’
India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle ( GSLV- F09) launched the 2230 kg South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9) into its planned Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) on 5 May 2017. This was its eleventh launch and took place from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR ( SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota, the spaceport of India, the fourth consecutive success achieved by GSLV carrying an indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage. In its oval shaped GTO, the South Asia Satellite is now 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 degrees with respect to the equator.
Few seconds before the launch countdown reached ‘ zero’, the four liquid propellant strap- on motors of GSLV- F09, each carrying 42 tons of liquid propellants, were ignited. At count zero and after confirming the normal performance of all the four strapon motors, the 139 ton solid propellant first stage core motor was ignited and GSLV lifted off at 16:57 IST. The major phases of the flight occurred as scheduled. About seventeen minutes after lift-off, the South Asia Satellite was successfully placed in GTO. Soon after separation from GSLV, the two solar arrays of the satellite were automatically deployed in quick
succession and the Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka assumed control of the satellite.
The ‘ South Asia Satellite’ is a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide a variety of communication services over the South Asian region. For this, it is equipped with Ku-band transponders.
Following the successful launch, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi congratulated ISRO and remarked that the day was historic for South Asia. 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 fulfilled that.
PM Modi called the launch of ISRO’s GSLV-F09 as a “gift to SAARC nations.” The Prime Minister further thanked the leaders of the neighbouring nations – Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, President of Maldives Abdulla Yameen, Nepal Prime Minister Prachanda and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena – who joined the satellite launch event via video conferencing along with Modi. Pakistan was not a part of the project. “The support and presence of these leaders will add even more joy in the hearts and minds of our region. We are a united family of South Asian countries, united in our pursuit of peace, progress and prosperity of our region and the entire humankind,” he stated.
The move aimed at building stronger ties with South Asian countries though was criticised by Pakistan, who chose to stay away from the project. The neighbouring nation had earlier agreed to associate with the project and collaborate with India in building and designing the satellite but later, pulled out forcing India to change the name from SAARC Satellite to South Asia Satellite.
In the following days, the satellite orbit was 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.
GSAT-9 seen with two halves of payload fairing of GSLV-F09
Hoisting of the GSLV-F09 second stage during vehicle integration
And lift off!
Panoramic view of GSLV-F06 being moved to launch pad
A view of fully integrated GSLV-F09 from the top of vehicle assembly building
The fully integrated GSLV-F06 carrying GSAT-9 at the second launch pad