Important success

The successful launch of India’s GSAT-8 satellite by an Ariane rocket from the European Space Agency’s facility in Kourou in French Guiana has again proved the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (Isro) proficiency in designing and building satellites which are vital for the country’s development. The satellite has started working and its signals are being received at the Isro’s Master Control Facility at Hasan. It is one of the largest and heaviest satellites made by the Isro. The 3100-kg satellite, which  took four years to build and costs about Rs 600 crore, will give a major boost to the country’s communications and broadcasting. It has a life of 12 years and has 24 Ku band transponders which will facilitate better Direct-to Home television broadcasts.

India was in need of increasing its transponder capacity. Some transponders on INSAT-4B are not working and the failures of two earlier GSAT satellites had caused a setback. Though there are about 150 transponders in service now, some of them will be out of operation soon. The GSAT-8 will therefore be of tremendous utility. More satellites in the GSAT series are being planned for launch in the near future. The GSAT-8 will aid private TV transmissions and is expected to take DTH operations much forward. Apart from this the satellite will also help to improve air, sea, road and rail communications. The information provided by it will help aircraft to land with greater precision at airports. It will also be of use in planning more efficient air routes. The GPS aided geo-augmented navigation payload would make this possible. Data from the satellite will also be beneficial in areas like telemedicine, internet and tele-education. It will cover the entire Indian territory including the Andaman & Nicobar islands.

Isro had received some recent setbacks like the failures of two GSLV launches. It has come back strongly from them. It has a crowded launch programme, including the important lunar mission, ahead. The lunar mission is planned for 2013. The recent successes should give greater confidence to the scientists and engineers in their efforts.

The most important challenge for the Isro now is to perfect the GSLV technology. There is no reason why it can not do that.

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