India's heaviest satellite GSAT-11, that would boost broadband services in the country, was successfully launched by an Arianespace rocket from the French Guiana in the early hours of Wednesday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
Blasting off from the Ariane Launch Complex at Kourou, a French territory located along the northeastern coast of South America at 02:07 am (IST), the Ariane-5 vehicle injected GSAT-11 into the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 33 minutes. "ISRO's heaviest and most-advanced high throughput communication satellite GSAT-11 was successfully launched from the Spaceport in French Guiana during the early hours today," the Indian space agency said.
After a 30-minute flight, GSAT-11 separated from the Ariane 5 upper stage in an elliptical Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. The achieved orbit was very close to the intended one, it said. ".....the heaviest, largest and most powerful satellite ever built by India is successfully launched by Ariane-5 today," ISRO Chairman K Sivan said soon after the launch, describing the GSAT-11 as the "richest space asset" for India. Weighing about 5,854 kg, the GSAT-11 is the "heaviest" satellite built by ISRO. It is a next generation "high throughput" communication satellite configured around ISRO's I-6K Bus, and has a designed lifetime of more than 15 years.
Post-separation, ISRO's Master Control Facility at Hassan, in Karnataka, took over the command and control of GSAT-11 and found its health parameters normal, the space agency said in a statement. The satellite is initially placed in the Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit and will be raised to the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) through phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres in the days ahead, using its on-board propulsion systems.
GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit, ISRO said, adding that subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of the satellite will be deployed in orbit. The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests. According to ISRO, GSAT-11 will provide high data rate connectivity to users of Indian mainland and islands through 32 user beams in Ku-band and 8 hub beams in Ka-band.
Calling the satellite a fore-runner in a series of advanced communications satellites with multi-spot beam antenna coverage over Indian mainland and islands, it said GSAT-11 will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country and also be a platform to demonstrate new generation applications. Stating that GSAT-11 is going to be the "richest space asset" for India, Sivan said ".....it is going to provide something like 16 GBPS data link services to the country."
It is the third in a series of four satellites aimed at achieving the government's ambitious target to provide high data connectivity of 100 GBPS in the country under the Digital India Mission, he added. According to the space agency, GSAT-11 would provide high data connectivity to users across India, broadband connectivity to gram panchayats under the BharathNet project and support high data rate applications for enterprise network and consumer broadband applications.
GSAT-11 was initially planned for launch on May 25, but was rescheduled with the ISRO, citing the need for additional technical checks, recalling it for tests. Sivan thanked Arianespace for making it possible for the ISRO to achieve the launch this year itself. The Ariane-5 vehicle (Flight VA246) also carried GEO-KOMPSAT-2A for the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI), along with GSAT-11.
The 3,507.20 kg GEO-KOMPSAT-2A is designed to conduct meteorological and space weather monitoring missions. Since the launch of India's APPLE experimental satellite on Ariane Flight L03 in 1981, it has orbited 22 satellites under contracts with the Indian space agency, Arianespace said, adding that two more satellites, GSAT-31 and GSAT-30, were in the order book.