ESA to launch Indian satellite on May 20

ESA Arianespace will launch India`s heavy geo-stationary satellite (GSAT-8) on May 20.

Last Updated: May 14, 2011, 18:36 PM IST

Bangalore: European Space Agency (ESA) Arianespace will launch India`s heavy geo-stationary satellite (GSAT-8), intended for communication purposes, on board its Ariane-5 rocket May 20 from its space centre in French Guiana (South America), a top space official said Saturday.

"The lift-off of GSAT-8 has been scheduled May 20 at 02:27 IST from Kourou. The indigenously built 3.1-tonne (3,100 kg) satellite has 24 Ku-band transponders for communication and broadcasting services," state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here.

Within 30 minutes after the launch, Ariane will deploy the heavy satellite in a elliptical geo-synchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and the space agency`s master control facility (MCF) at Hasan in Karnataka, about 180 km from this tech hub, will take over its command and control.

"The satellite will be gradually put in the 36,000 km geosynchronous orbit over the following three days (May 21-23) and its antenna and solar panels will be deployed. The MCF will also test and monitor the health parameters of the payloads by June 1. It will be available for DTH services from next month," Radhakrishnan said.

Along with GSAT-8, the space agency is sending the global position system (GPS) aided geo augmented navigation (Gagan) to improve the accuracy of the proposed Indian global navigation satellite system (GNSS), having a constellation of seven satellites.

The space agency is implementing the Rs.774-crore Gagan (sky) project in three phases in partnership with the state-run Airport Authority of India (AAI) to provide navigation system for all phases of flight over the Indian airspace and in the adjoining areas.

When fully operational over the next couple of years, Gagan will provide navigation support to safety-to-life operations and meet the performance requirements of international civil aviation regulatory bodies.

"The launch of Gagan`s first payload has been delayed by a year as the original spacecraft was lost in the crash of the geo-synchronous satellite launch vehicle (GSLV-D3) April 15, 2010, that was to carry it along with GSAT-4," Radhakrishnan admitted.

IANS