Snag defers Indian satellite launch from Kourou
Bangalore: A minor snag has delayed by five days to Sep 29 the launch of India's heaviest communication satellite (GSAT-10) on board the European Ariane-5 rocket from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana, a top space official said Monday.
"We have received a communique Sunday from the European space agency (Arianespace) that due to a minor snag at the launch pad, our satellite launch has been deferred tentatively to Sep 29 from Sep 22 and a final call will be taken Sep 19," state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters here.
In a press release earlier in the day, Paris-based Arianespace said its flight VA209 has been postponed for a few days to perform additional checks on its Ariane-5 ECA rocket, carrying two heavy satellites - GSAT-10 and Astra 2F of SES, the Luxembourg-based leading satellite operator.
Though Arianespace said a new launch date would be announced soon, the Indian space agency is hopeful that its 3.4-tonne satellite would lift-off from the Kourou coast in South America Sep 29, as the snag was minor and could be rectified in the next 10 days.
"The launch crew has found the air hose connecting the launch pad and the rocket damaged when a dust particle, weighing one gram, could have probably gone inside the shield where the two satellites (Astra & GSAT-10) are located," Radhakrishnan said.
The GSAT-10 has 30 transponders, including 12 in normal and six in lower extended C-band and 12 Ku-band and a GPS (global positioning system) aided Geo augmented navigation (Gagan) payload operating in L1 and L5 bands.
"The cost of the GSAT-10, including its launch and insurance is Rs.750 crore. It will augment our communication transponders' capacity to 198 from 168 currently in the Indian satellite (INSAT) system," Radhakrishnan said.
Incidentally, GSAT-10 will be the second Indian satellite after GSAT-8 to carry the Gagan payload for providing navigation services to airlines and ships. The spacecraft's Ku-band beacon will also help in accurately pointing ground antennas towards the satellite.
As a two-way device, a transponder receives signals over a range of uplink frequencies and re-transmits them on a different set of downlink frequencies to receivers on earth without changing the content (voice, data or pictures) of the received signals.
"After our satellite is injected into the geo-transfer orbit, our master control facility at Hassan (about 180 km from Bangalore) will take control of it and performs the orbit raising manoeuvres using the liquid apogee motor onboard to place it in the circular geo-stationary orbit, about 36,000 km from earth," a space agency official said.