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ISRO launches GSAT-9 communications satellite, for the benefit of South Asian (SAARC) countries

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Today, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota at 4:57 pm, the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (better known as ISRO) heaviest GSLV rocket took off and successfully launched the communications satellite, called GSAT-9, meant for providing a vast array of services to the entire South Asian region.

This communications satellite will benefit seven out of the eight SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) member nations because Pakistan opted out from the program. It mentioned that the country has its own space program to deflect the support from India.

But, the primary reason they declined to become a part of this program was their suspicion over the satellite being used an instrument to create Indian hegemony. Other than Pakistan, all member nations including — India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh,  Nepal and Maldives are on board with this project.

 

A massive ₹450 crore ($70 million) is the total cost for the launch of this satellite, which is being completely borne by India. This South Asian satellite has been termed as a gift from India to these neighboring nations by our honorable Prime Miniter Narendra Modi.

It is an important step by India to enhance cooperation with the entire South Asia…It is an invaluable gift. This is an appropriate example of our commitment towards South Asia. I welcome all the South Asian countries who have joined us on this momentous endeavour.

This launch mission, which carried the GSAT-9 satellite aboard the Geo-Synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) wasn’t much different from previous ISRO launches. As for the satellite, the main structure has a cuboidal shape that has been around the central cylinder. It been configured around ISRO’s standard I-2K bus and has a mass of more than 2,230 kilograms.

GSAT-9 is a Geostationary Communication Satellite with the objective to provide various communication applications in Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries.

The highlight of ISRO’s satellite will, however, have to be the twelve Ku-band transponders — where the neighbouring countries will have access to at least one of them. It also includes a communication backbone created for a secure hotline that links every SAARC nation (of course, on board!). This will enable the countries to save over ₹10,000 crore (approx $1.5 billion) in costs over the 12-year lifespan of the satellite.

PM Modi was quite elated with this significant milestone in the country’s history. He, being the tech savvy person he is, immediately took to Twitter to not only congratulate ISRO for the achievement but also reiterate the benefits of this communications satellite for the SAARC nations — minus Pakistan.

Further, Modi went on a Twitter spree expressing his surprise over the support he’s receiving from the neighboring regions. He is even more overjoyed by the leaders of the said nations joining him for a press conference via video conferencing. This satellite is just the first step in the right direction, which builds Modi’s diplomacy and image among the South Asian nations. This further reiterates the growing potential of our space agency as well.

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