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India’s heaviest communication satellite, GSAT 11 successfully launched

In what is is set to bring a tectonic shift in India’s broadband and internet connectivity, ISRO’s 5800kgs heavyweight communication satellite, the GSAT 11, has been successfully launched. The satellite was launched aboard Arianespace’s Ariane 5 VA-246, the rocket seldom used by ISRO for its more heavier launches.

Ariane 5 VA-246 lifted off from Kourou Launch Base, French Guiana at 02:07 am (IST) carrying India’s GSAT-11 and South Korea’s GEO-KOMPSAT-2A satellites, as scheduled. Ariane 5 is one of three launch vehicles operated by Arianespace along with Soyuz and Vega.

After a 30-min 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.

The 5854-kg 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.

Talking about the successful launch, ISRO Chairman Dr. K Sivan said,

GSAT-11 will boost the broadband connectivity to rural and inaccessible Gram Panchayats in the country coming under the Bharat Net Project, which is part of Digital India Programme,

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. Several other tests were performed, a usual in satellite launched, and the results were normal.

ISRO scientists will now undertake phase-wise orbit-raising manoeuvres in the days ahead to place the satellite in the Geostationary Orbit (36,000 km above the equator) using its on-board propulsion systems. GSAT-11 will be positioned at 74-degree east longitude in the geostationary orbit.

Subsequently, the two solar arrays and four antenna reflectors of GSAT-11 will be deployed in orbit. The satellite will be operational after the successful completion of all in-orbit tests.

GSAT 11, which is India’s heaviest communications satellite till date, is a part of an ambitious BharatNet project, which promises to bring speeds of upto 100 gigabits per second across the country. This will be done using a constellation of satellites, 3 of which are already up and running with the next 2 set to be launched earlier next year.

GSAT-11 is the 22nd satellite from ISRO to be launched by Arianespace, and the largest and heaviest satellite ever built by India’s space agency. Arianespace has two other ISRO satellites in its order book to launch: GSAT-30 and GSAT-31. The latter, GSAT-31, will be lofted by Arianespace early next year.

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