ISRO will launch PM Narendra Modi’s ‘priceless gift’ satellite today. The satellite built by India Space Research Organisation is not only aimed to boost the ‘neighbourhood first’ policy but also make new inroads to global space diplomacy. Indian space agency’s GSAT-9, the South Asia Communication Satellite that is aimed to boost connectivity among nations in the region, will be launched at 4.57pm on Friday, according to a PTI report.
PM Narendra Modi, in the year 2014, just one month at the helm, made a surprising announcement to the world, when he told the scientists at ISRO in Sriharikota that the space community should take up the challenge of developing an SAARC satellite that can be dedicated to the neighbourhood as a ‘gift from India’. Now, PM Modi has announced the famous space diplomacy program, through a Rs 450 crore ‘gift’ to South Asian countries. Extending its neighbourhood first strategy, the government has also linked the announcement to its ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ policy. The satellite will be launched on Friday, and it will have a footprint which will extend all over South Asia.
India’s gift to its neighbours is aimed at helping them utilise their space-based technologies in a better way. According to the government, 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”. Here are 5 most important things you need to know about the satellite and the program.
1. The launch of India’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) carrying GSAT-9, is scheduled on Friday, May 05, 2017. 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.
2. In this unusual message of peace, India’s most hostile neighbour Pakistan has fully opted out. Pakistan had decided to opt out during the planning meeting on June 22, 2015, reportedly saying that it has its own space program. 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.
3. GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication Satellite with the objective to provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries. GSAT-9 is configured around the ISRO’s standard I-2K bus, with a lift-off mass of 2230 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.
4. 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 pure communications satellite costing Rs 235 crore. GSLV-F09 mission is the eleventh flight of GSLV and its fourth consecutive flight with the indigenous Cryogenic Upper Stage (CUS). The satellite will be launched from the Second Launch Pad (SLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR (SDSC SHAR), Sriharikota.
5. The satellite also has the capability to provide secure hotlines 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.