India launches GSAT-6A communication satellite

The Indian Space Research Organisation successfully launched the GSAT-6A communication satellite into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit on March 29 with the help of a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle

March 29, 2018

GSAT-6A is a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide improved mobile communication services through multi beam coverage; For this purpose, the soon-to-be commissioned satellite is equipped with S and C band transponders

In its oval shaped GTO, GSAT-6A is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.4 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,692.5 km with an orbital inclination of 20.64 degrees with respect to the equator

The latest GSAT comes a year after ISRO launched the South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9), a geostationary communications and meteorology satellite, to boost ties within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region

ISRO has gathered global accolade after launching 104 satellites, including three from India and 101 from six foreign countries, in a single mission last year; ISRO’s plans for 2018 include launching one satellite every month

On March 29th the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched a critical communication satellite, marking yet another success for the Indian space programme. The state-run agency launched the  GSAT-6A satellite into the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) with the help of a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F08). In its oval shaped GTO, GSAT-6A is now orbiting the Earth with a perigee (nearest point to Earth) of 169.4 km and an apogee (farthest point to Earth) of 36,692.5 km with an orbital inclination of 20.64 degrees with respect to the equator. The latest GSAT comes a year after ISRO launched the South Asia Satellite (GSAT-9), a geostationary communications and meteorology satellite, to boost ties within the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.

The GSAT-6A satellite mission was the 12th launch using a GSLV platform and was carried out from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, at Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. This is the fifth consecutive success achieved by GSLV carrying indigenously developed Cryogenic Upper Stage rocket engine. About seventeen and a half minutes after lift-off, the GSAT-6A satellite was successfully placed in the GTO. India operates the INSAT and GSAT series communication satellites, earth observation satellites, and IRNSS series navigational satellites. India’s fleet also has hybrid satellites such as TES and Cartosat that serve both civilian and military applications. India has a dedicated defence satellite GSAT-7. ISRO has executed the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) at a cost of US$75 million, which is just one-tenth of NASA’s budget for the MAVEN Mars mission. ISRO’s plans for 2018 include launching one satellite every month.

Soon after separation from the GSLV, the two solar arrays of the GSAT-6A satellite were automatically deployed in quick succession and the Master Control Facility (MCF) at Hassan in Karnataka assumed control of the satellite. GSAT-6A is a communication satellite built by ISRO to provide improved mobile communication services through multi beam coverage. For this purpose, the satellite is equipped with S and C band transponders. In the coming days, the orbit of GSAT-6A will be raised from its present GTO to the final circular Geostationary Orbit (GSO) by firing the satellite’s Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) in gradual stages. The satellite will be commissioned into formal service after the completion of orbit raising operations and its positioning in the designated slot in GSO following in-orbit testing of its payloads.

ISRO has gathered global accolade after launching 104 satellites, including three from India and 101 from six foreign countries, in a single mission last year. India ushered in 2018 by scoring its 100th successful launch – again, launching 31 satellites in two different orbits simultaneously. With such missions, India’s satellite launching capabilities have reached an all-time high. This has highlighted India’s capability of launching space missions at a fraction of what it costs in other countries. Indian space scientists say they are now working towards launching satellites at one tenth of current global costs – which may be anything between US$14,000 to US$20,000 to put a kilogram into the orbit. As a result, as many as 28 nations have contracted ISRO to launch their satellites owing to low prices and high success rates.