Isro-Saarc satellite to be a communication vehicle

Last Updated : 11 January 2015, 19:41 IST
Last Updated : 11 January 2015, 19:41 IST

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The Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) has decided the Saarc satellite would be a communication-cum-meteorology satellite to aid the neighbouring countries with their need for satellite transponders for communication and weather forecasting.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mooted the idea of a Saarc satellite almost six months ago.

“It would be a communication satellite and Indian industry would be roped in for making it,” reliable Isro sources told Deccan Herald. The satellite’s configuration would be similar to the INSAT series satellites that had dual purpose. The launch is likely in 2016.

While visiting Isro in June, Modi proposed the idea of a Saarc satellite. Its genesis, however, was in an alert from the external intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing that warned the government about the Chinese plan of boosting space cooperation in India’s neighbourhood.

In the last three years, Beijing launched two satellites from Sri Lanka and Pakistan and signed an agreement for a third launch.

In November 2012, the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) ferried a five-tonne communication satellite from a Sri Lankan private firm SupremeSAT (Supreme SAT-1) to the orbit. Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son Rohita, played a key role in developing the satellite as he is the technical director of the firm.

The same Sri Lankan company in 2013 signed a $ 215 million agreement with the CGWIC to launch a second satellite, Supreme Sat-II in 2017. The CGWIC also launched Pakistan’s first communication satellite PakSat-1R from its Xichang base in Sichuan province in 2011.

At the Saarc summit in Kathmandu in November, 2014 Modi said India’s Saarc satellite would be launched by December, 2016 (Saarc day). “We will also host a conference in India for all South Asian partners next year, to strengthen our collective ability to apply space technology in economic development and governance,” he said.

Though Isro’s commercial arm, Antrix Corporation signed agreements with many countries to launch lighter satellites with PSLV, there are barely any discussions within Saarc, where only India and Pakistan have satellites.

As Isro does not have a reliable indigenous launch vehicle to ferry heavy 3-5 tonne class satellites (GSAT) to the geosynchronous orbit at an elevation of 36,000 km, the space agency sends its own communication satellites using the French ArianeSpace rockets.

The Saarc satellite would benefit education, tele-medicine, disaster response, resource management, weather forecasting and communication sectors.
DH News Service

Published 11 January 2015, 19:41 IST

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