10 facts about South Asia Satellite; India’s move to counter China

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Kunwar Prithvi Singh Chauhan
Part time journalist, full-time observer. Editor-in-Chief at The Indian Wire. I cover updates related to business and startups.

At 4:57PM today, India will launch Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09) carrying GSAT-9 (popularly termed at South Asia Satellite). Unlike other space missions of India, this will not be just a launch, but a statement to counter the growing influence of China in the region.

This satellite mission also becomes important because of the fact that India is launching it for a number of south Asian countries. Narendra Modi termed it as a priceless gift to South Asia. The launch, which will take place at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh will also be a statement to prove India’s influence in the region.

India has initially named the satellite as Saarc Satellite, however, Pakistan ruled itself out from the joint project and an agreement with Afghanistan could not be signed yet.

Below are a few facts about the highly talked about mega project

  • The data from GSAT-9 will be shared with Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. India was keen to include Pakistan and Afghanistan to make it a Saarc Satellite, however, Pakistan turned down the offer. Talks with Afghanistan are underway and hopefully, there will be a decision soon.
  • This is first such initiative in the region. It will help the countries connect with each other.
  • ISRO has estimated that the participating countries will have a benefit of at least ₹10,000 crores ($1.5 billion) within its lifespan of 12 years.
  • To extract benefits, each country will have to develop ground infrastructure. India has clarified that it will extend its help and knowledge base to set things up.
  • 2230Kg heavy satellite costs ₹235 crores. It will be carried by 50 meters long rocket, which weighs 412 tonnes.
  • On June 30, 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had presented a proposal to ISRO, which talked about one such gift from India to its neighbouring countries. This is a result of the same proposal.
  • The satellite was supposed to launch last year, however, some issues related to frequency setup delayed the launch for 6 months.
  • Pakistan was a part of plans till the Saarc landing commission met in June 2015, however, the country opted out of the program citing that they have their own space program.
  • Out of the participating nations, 3 already have a full fledged active communication satellite. Sri Lanka and Pakistan have developed their own programs with the help of China and Afghanistan is using an old India-made satellite.
  • Pakistan has launched 5 space mission in total, however, they lack heavy duty launchers and latest fabrication technology to help satellite last longer in the space.

Let us know what you feel about India’s ambitious space mission in comments section.

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