In another milestone for India's space history, the country's heaviest satellite was successfully launched from the French Guiana early yesterday, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said.
Blasting off from the launch complex at Kourou, a French island along the north eastern coast of South America at 02:07 am Indian time, the Ariane-5 rocket put the about 5,854kg satellite GSAT-11 in the orbit in a flawless flight lasting about 33 minutes.
The GSAT-11, which will play a vital role in providing broadband services across the country, has only cost about Rs 600 crore (around $85 million). The ariane-5 heavyweight rocket was hired from Arianespace by ISRO. The satellite is expected to have a life span of 15 years.
".....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.
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. ISRO said.
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.
Along with its three siblings, GSAT-19, GSAT-29 and GSAT-20, the satellite will be a "game changer for providing internet access and data communications for India and will aid the digital India program. India aims to provide high data connectivity of 100 GBPS in the country under the Digital India Mission.
The GSAT-11 is equivalent to the combined power of almost all communications satellites sent into orbit by India. A communications specialist told NDTV that the satellite is like a constellation of 30 classical orbiting satellites.
India has hired the French Ariane-5 rocket as it can heavy payload into orbit. India's own geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle MK iii or GSLV MK iii can haul satellites that weighs upto 4 tons.
India has stunned the world before with low-cost space missions. In 2014, India sent its own Mars orbiter, The Mangalyaan, with a cost around just $74 million. Whereas Nasa's Maven Mars mission, which also reached Mars orbit in 20014, cost around $671 million.