EDUSAT Takes Off; Digital Classrooms To Get A Boost

Sriharikota | Updated: Sep 21 2004, 05:30am hrs
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), on Monday, yet again successfully launched a satellite - this time Indias first dedicated educational satellite (EDUSAT) - in orbit using its geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV). The launch was precise and the 1,950 kg satellite has been put in its intended transfer orbit. Solar panels have been deployed and the exercise would soon begin to move the satellite into its final geosynchronous orbit later this week.

EDUSAT is the first of the thematic satellites built exclusively for serving the educational sector by meeting the demand for interactive satellite-based distance education system of the country. Through this satellite lack of adequate rural educational infrastructure and non-availability of good teachers could be overcome to a large extent.

It is specially designed for audio-visual medium and employing digital interactive classroom. It will provide connectivity to schools, colleges and higher levels of education. ISRO expects to sign MoUs with over 20 educational institutions over the next three months for utilising Edusat.

ISRO chairman Madhavan Nair described it as one of the most precise launches. GSLVs trajectory was unbelievably good, he said and all stages of the launch vehicle performed as desired. The launch vehicle cost Rs 160 crore and the satellite Rs 90 crore.

This was ISROs 10th consecutive successful launch and customer confidence is increasing. Antrix Corporation, the commercial arm of ISRO, has already tied up with European Space Agency for launching Agile satellite using polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV) some time next year. Antrixs revenues have jumped from Rs 100 crore a couple of years ago to Rs 300 crore this year. The profit this year was Rs 30 crore.

The biggest challenge for ISRO, now, is to gets its own cryogenic engine. For this launch it has used the third engine (of the seven) supplied by Russia before the US prevented any further transfers. India began developing its own engine in 1994 and the engine has been successfully ground tested.

Steps are now being taken to integrate the engine to the rocket stage and test it. Its flight worthiness should be known in a years time.