GSAT-9 launch: Historic moment for India as ISRO successfully blasts off South Asia Satellite from Sriharikota

05 May 2017, 09:42 PM
South Asia Satellite launch: ISRO successfully blasts off GSAT-9 from Sriharikota (Source: ISRO)
South Asia Satellite launch: ISRO successfully blasts off GSAT-9 from Sriharikota (Source: ISRO)

It was a historic moment for India when ISRO on Friday successfully launched the South Asia Communication Satellite GSAT-9 from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. Fully funded by India, it is touted as an “invaluable gift” to its South Asian neighbours. The 50-m-tall rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) carried the GSAT-9 called SAS.

The GSLV-F09 successfully injected the GSAT-9 into the orbit in a flawless flight.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had called the GSAT-9 as the 'gift' to SAARC nations, on Friday took it to Twitter to congratulate the team of ISRO scientists and called it a 'historic moment'.

The Geostationary Communication Satellite was launched from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at 4:57 PM at Sriharikota, about 135 km from Chennai. The total cost to be incurred in the launch of the satellite is estimated to be about Rs 235 crore.

The satellite offers full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. Television, Direct-to-Home (DTH), Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs), Tele-education, Telemedicine and Disaster Management Support.

Here are the highlights:

6:02 PM

This will be helpful to provide communication services in mountain &hilly regions of Nepal: Nepal PM Pushpa Kamal Dahal

6:01 PM:

Sincerely hope that we'll be able to aside differences&work together as org that can fulfill hopes. Sabka saath, sabka vikas: Maldives Pres

6:00 PM:

Congratulate on launch, it signifies intent to build cordial relations&vision for cooperation with SAARC countries:Srilankan Pres M Sirisena

5:59 PM:

Launching of SouthAsiaSatellite signifies India's neighbourhood first policy: Abdulla Yameen, Maldives President

5:58 PM:

If cooperation through land is not possible, it is certainly possible through sky& we are confident that we will integrate: President Ghani

5:55 PM:

The launch of this satellite will boost regional cooperation & bring about common progress of our region: Bhutan PM Tshering Tobgay

5:50 PM:

Development must become citizen centric. Today's initiative is child centred& women centred, it makes governance accessible: President Ghani

5:48 PM:

I congratulate government of India. Hope this will open a new horizon of cooperation in the region: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina

5:45 PM:

The gap between talk&action is bridged today,the imperative of regional cooperation is changed to the reality: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

#5:30 PM: PM Modi addresses post launch of South Asian Satellite:

-Convinced that when we join hands and mutually share fruits of knowledge, technology & growth, we can speed up development and prosperity

-ISRO team has led from the front in developing the South Asia Satellite as per the regions' requirements and flawlessly launching it

-Space technology will touch the lives of our people in the region

-Through this we will achieve effective communication, better governance, better banking services & better education in remote areas

-Our coming together is a sign of our unshakeable resolve to place the  needs of our peoples in the forefront

-Grateful to fellow leaders from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka for joining me to celebrate this launch

-We extend our close links into Outer Space

-With this launch we have started a journey to build the most advanced frontier of our partnership

-A promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia

-Two years ago, India made a promise

-Today is a historic day for South Asia...a day without precedence

#5:12 PM:

#5:10 PM:

#4:57 PM: 

ISRO successfully launches GSAT-9 satellite from Sriharikota

#4:50 PM: 

ISRO set to launch South Asia Satellite at 4:57 PM

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The announcement was recently made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he was addressing the nation in his ‘Mann ki Baat’. The South Asia satellite is being built by India and will be used by countries belonging to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.

While announcing the launch date, PM Modi said the capacities of the satellite and the facilities it provides “will go a long way in addressing South Asia’s economic and developmental priorities.”

“Natural resources mapping, tele-medicine, the field of education, deeper IT connectivity or fostering people to people contact — this satellite will prove to be a boon in the progress of the entire region. It is an important step by India to enhance co-operation with the entire South Asia… it is an invaluable gift. This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia,” he said.

PM Modi had first announced the satellite during the 2014 SAARC Summit in Nepal. All the SAARC countries except Pakistan have since joined it.

Few key details about the South Asia Satellite:

# On May 5, the skies above the island of Sriharikota on the coast of the Bay of Bengal will be lit up as the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) also called the 'naughty boy of ISRO' on its 11th mission will carry a message of peace like never before.

# PM Modi described it as a "priceless gift" from India, he said the project is a significant step towards promoting cooperation with the entire South Asia.

# The benefits will be in the areas of mapping of natural resources, tele-medicine, education, IT connectivity and people-to-people links.

# PM Modi thanked the countries which became part of this project. These countries, besides India, are Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan.

# South Asian Satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.

# The satellite was initially proposed to be launched in December last year but it got delayed.

# Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is providing this space-based platform that would cost the participating nations almost USD 1,500 million over the 12-year life of the satellite.

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# Prashant Agarwal, an IIT Kanpur-trained engineer and the point-person in the Ministry of External Affairs piloting the project, says, "Prime Minister Modi has actually extended his slogan 'Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas' to India's neighbourhood essentially to service the needs of the poor in South Asia."

# The nearly 50-m-tall rocket that weighs about 412 tons will carry what is now dubbed as the 'South Asia Satellite' or what the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) still prefers to call GSAT-9.

# The 2230-kg satellite has been fabricated in three years and is purely a communications satellite costing Rs 235 crore.

# The uniqueness of this satellite is that it will have a footprint that extends all over South Asia and India is gifting this heavenly messenger to its neighbours who according to India's assessment could be helped in better utilising these space based technologies.

# The South Asia Satellite has 12 Ku band transponders which India's neighbours can utilise to increase communications. 

# Each country will get access to at least one transponder through which they could beam their own programming and there could be common 'south Asian programing' as well.

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# Each country has to develop its own ground infrastructure though India is willing to extend assistance and know-how.

# The satellite will "enable a full range of applications and services to our neighbours in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications viz. television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support".

# The satellite also has the capability to provide secure hot lines among the participating nations in addition since the region is highly prone to earthquakes, cyclones, floods, tsunamis, it may help in providing critical communication links in times of disasters.

# In this unusual message of peace, India's most hostile neighbour Pakistan has fully opted out. Rest of the seven nations part of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) are already on-board with Afghanistan still to ink the deal with some minor technical details still to be fixed in Kabul.

# Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have agreed to be part of this mission.

When was the announcement made?

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# Just 4 weeks after taking over as PM, Modi on June 30, 2014 surprised the world while speaking to the scientists at ISRO in Sriharikota as he asked "the space community to take up the challenge of developing a SAARC satellite that we can dedicate to our neighbourhood as a gift from India".

# The proposal emerged directly from Modi and the leadership at ISRO was stunned into silence not knowing what this space animal will look like.

# A highly-impassioned Modi, who had just witnessed a successful launch, said "I believe that the fight against the poverty of the countries of SAARC is the fight against illiteracy, the fight against superstitions, the challenge of moving forward in the scientific field is the possibility of providing opportunities to young people of SAARC countries.

# Modi reinforced this idea five months later when speaking in Kathmandu at the SAARC Summit on November 26, 2014.He said, "India's gift of a satellite for the SAARC region will benefit us all in areas like education, telemedicine, disaster response, resource management, weather forecasting and communication.

Pakistan opted out

# Modi's sincere efforts got a jolt when even after participating in the planning meeting on June 22, 2015, Pakistan decided to 'opt out' from the proposed SAARC satellite suggesting that 'Pakistan has its own space program'.

# So the project was renamed to 'South Asia Satellite' but sources say Pakistan was not allowed to veto the development project. Meanwhile frequency co-ordination activities took longer than expected and the launch got postponed by almost six months.

Beneficiary nations

# Among India's neighbours, three nations already possess full-fledged communication satellites with Pakistan and Sri Lanka having been helped by China; Afghanistan also has a communication satellite actually an old India-made satellite acquired from Europe.

# Bangladesh is likely to have its first bird in the sky later this year made with help from Thales.

# Essentially, it is the tiny nations of Bhutan and Maldives that may benefit in the long run. Incidentally, Nepal has already floated a tender to acquire two communications satellites.

# Experts say "Pakistan has missed an opportunity" since its own space program is currently in a primitive stage as compared to India's.

# This is despite the fact that Pakistan actually launched its first rocket five years ahead of India and its space agency Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is older than ISRO.

# Pakistan has had five satellites in space but today lacks heavy duty launchers and satellite fabrication facilities.

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India aiming to counter China's influence in South Asia

# There is no doubt that through the South Asia Satellite India is actively trying to counter China's growing influence on its neighbours. But in the 21st-century Asian space race, China already has the first mover advantage.

# Better late than never is prevailing mood and for this unique space diplomacy it is almost certain that India is likely to get applauded by the world's powers for this one of a kind friendly confidence building measure.

(With inputs from PTI)

First Published: Friday, May 05, 2017 04:36 PM
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