South Asia Satellite will help India boost ties with neighbours

The launch on May 5, of GSAT-09, a communication satellite developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), will bring India closer to its neighbours Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.

The satellite, which weighs 2,230 kg and took almost three years to build, would boost services such as telecommunication, direct-to-home, telemedicine, tele-education and other supporting systems in these countries.

The satellite is also expected to help support their water conservation initiatives, by providing data, forecasting weather and sending alerts on natural disasters.

In June 2014, shortly after he took over as Prime Minister of the country, Narendra Modi asked Isro to develop a satellite that could be dedicated as a ‘gift’ for South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations.

“Such a satellite will be helpful in SAARC nations’ fight against poverty and illiteracy, and in overcoming the challenges to progress in the scientific field, besides opening up opportunities to the youth of SAARC countries,” Modi had said, adding that such a satellite will be useful for the development of all SAARC nations, with India playing a key role in the initiative.

However, Pakistan opted out from of this programme chose not to be a beneficiary. Following this, the Indian government changed the name of the vehicle to South Asian Satellite.

With India’s GSAT-09, South Asian countries can also save the investment they would have had to make on developing a communication satellite and launching it. However, they have to make their own ground station to crunch data from the 12 Ku-band transponders in the satellite. India has spent around Rs 235 crore to develop the space vehicle.

India is the strongest among these countries in the region, since it has developed its own satellite launchers and has placed itself among the elite group of space exploring countries. While Sri Lanka has its own communication satellites, they were deployed with China’s help. Bangladesh is in the process of developing a satellite with the help of a French firm. Afghanistan could be another beneficiary of the programme.

Mission specifications

GSAT-09 is a geostationary communication satellite with the objective of providing various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries. GSAT-09 is configured around the Isro’s standard I-2K bus, with lift-off mass of 2,230 kg. The main structure of the satellite is cuboid in shape, built around a central cylinder with a mission life of more than 12 years.

It will be launched in the eleventh flight of GSLV and its fourth consecutive flight with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS). GSLV-F09 will be launched from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota.

According to reports, as the relation with Pakistan and China is strained in connection with the border disputes, the smaller neighbouring countries which are closer to India geographically would be a support for the country’s security. (Business Standard)

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