Bengaluru | Boosting India’s communication services, its latest satellite GSAT16 was successfully launched on board Arianespace rocket from the spaceport of Kourou in French Guiana in the early hours today, after a delay of two days due to bad weather. The satellite with 48 transponders, the largest ever carried by a communication spacecraft built by Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), was injected into the intended Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) in about a 32minute flight after a perfect liftoff by the European launcher at 2.10 AM.
It was a dual satellite launch with GSAT16 with a liftoff mass of 3,181 kg ejected into space four minutes after its copassenger DIRECTTV14 spacecraft, designed to provide directtohome TV broadcasts across the US, was placed in orbit, Arianespace said. After the command and control of the satellite was taken over by its Master Control Facility at Hassan in Karnataka soon after the launch, the Bengaluruheadquartered ISRO said initial checks indicated normal health of GSAT16.
ISRO said the first orbit raising operation is scheduled for tomorrow at around 3:50 AM as part of manoeuvres to place the satellite finally in its designated slot at 55 deg East longitude in the Geostationary orbit before being colocated with GSAT8, IRNSS1A and IRNSS1B satellites. The launch of GSAT16 was originally scheduled for Friday but was put off hours before the liftoff due to inclement weather at Kourou, which is chosen for its strategic location of being close to the equator that is ideallysuited for missions into the geostationary orbit.
Arianespace rescheduled the flight for Saturday at 2.09 AM (IST) but within hours that too was postponed, citing unfavourable weather conditions (high altitude winds over the launch pad.It was then rescheduled for wee hours of today. … two days we had to wait for this to happen, but it has happened excellently, so congratulations to all people from Arianespace for its excellent performance, ISRO Satellite Centre (ISAC) Director S K Shivakumar said at the Arianespace facility.
A multiapplication telecommunications satellite, GSAT16 will cover the entire Indian subcontinent. It is the 18th ISRO satellite to be launched by Arianespace, starting with the Apple experimental satellite in 1981,Arianespace said. GSAT16 has 24 Cband, 12 Kuband and 12 Upper Extended Cband transponders that will boost public and private TV and radio services, largescale Internet and telephone operations. It would augment the national space capacity with 48 transponders joining 180odd existing transponders with ISRO which has been hit by capacity crunch, impelling it to lease 95 transponders on foreign satellites mainly for private sector users like TV broadcasters who have often complained of inadequate transponder capacity to meet their requirements.
The transponder augmentation has become a pressing need, prompting advancement of GSAT16 launch by about six months. Shivakumar said in the next few days rest of the operational activities like Onboard Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) firing and others will be carried out. Subsequently telecommunication payload systems are planned as part of on orbit testing and we hope to have the spacecraft ready for services by the end of this year, he said Today’s launch comes 11 months after the last Indian communication satellite, GSAT14, was flown in January this year.
Shivakumar said GSAT15, which also would be launched from Kourou, was at the advanced stage of integration at ISRO satellite centre where tests were being conducted. That is expected to be ready for launch some time by third quarter of 2016. ISRO said the present orbit of GSAT16 will be raised to Geostationary Orbit of about 36,000 km altitude by December 12 through three orbit raising manoeuvres by the firing LAM engine. India’s rockets PSLV and the present GSLV do not have the capability to launch satellites of more than two tonne class, prompting ISRO to opt for an outside launch. ISRO is developing the next big launcher, GSLVMkIII, which can put satellites of up to four tonnes in orbit.
The Government in July, 2013 had given approval for GSAT16 with a procured launch cost and insurance both amounting to Rs 865.50 crore. Ariane’s payload lift performance is more than 10,200 kg, including a combined total of some 9,480 kg for DIRECTV14 and GSAT16 passengers. The designated on orbit operational life of GSAT16 is 12 years. GSAT16 will replace INSAT3E, which was decommissioned a little prematurely in April.