Photo Credit: ISRO
With just a few hours for the rocket carrying the SAARC satellite or GSAT-9 to take off, an ISRO official said the launch countdown is progressing smoothly. The satellite, also being called the South Asian satellite, will be used for communication applications in the Ku-band with coverage over South Asian countries. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called the GSAT-9 satellite a "gift to the SAARC region," but Pakistan - also part of SAARC - pulled out of the project. The PM Modi on April 30 said the SAARC satellite will help address the region's economic and developmental abilities.
The rocket with the SAARC satellite onboard is expected to blast off at 4:57pm on Friday, May 5 from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 80km from Chennai.
The 28-hour countdown for the rocket launch began at 12.57pm on Thursday. Standing 49 metres tall and weighing around 450 ton, the GSLV is a three stage rocket. The first stage is fired with solid fuel, the second with liquid fuel and the third is the cryogenic engine.
According to an official of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) the liquid propellant for the second stage has been filled up and the fuelling of cryogenic engine is on.
"The capacities of this satellite and the facilities it provides will go a long way in addressing South Asia's economic and developmental priorities," he said in his monthly radio address 'Mann Ki Baat'.
"Natural resources mapping, telemedicine, the field of education, deeper IT connectivity or fostering people-to-people contact, this satellite will prove to be a boon in the progress of the entire region."
"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," he had said.
The space agency said that the GSAT-9 is configured around the ISRO's standard I-2K bus, with a lift-off mass of 2,230 kg, and the satellite's main structure is cuboid in shape built around a central cylinder with a mission life of more than 12 years.
According to an official, ISRO on experimental basis decided to have electric power for the satellite.
"We have not reduced the volume of the traditional on-board fuel because of the electric power. We have added electric power facility to check its performance for use in future satellites," the official told IANS.
He said the next satellite with electric power will be the GSAT-20 slated for launch in 2018. Meanwhile, the ISRO is also gearing up to launch its heaviest rocket GSLV-Mk III later in May.
Written with IANS inputs