The Indian Space Research Organisation on Thursday successfully placed communication satellite GSAT-6A in orbit and also set the ball rolling for its bigger missions in the future. The space agency tested certain improved critical systems in the launch vehicle -- GSLV Mk-II -- that may eventually be used in its future missions, including the country’s second lunar mission.
GSLV Mk-II (GSLV-F08), carrying 2,140kg GSAT-6A, took off from the second launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, at 4.56pm. It was the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle’s 12th flight and sixth with indigenous cryogenic upper stage.
Around 17 minutes after lifting off from the launch pad, the three-stage rocket injected the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit, and Isro scientists watching the monitors at the mission control centre in the spaceport broke into celebrations.
In the coming days, the scientists will fire the thrusters onboard the satellite to manoeuvre it to a geostationary orbit at an altitude of 36,000km from earth.
It was the first mission for K Sivan after he took charge as the chairman of the space agency in January, 2018.Next generation Vikas engine
During the launch, Isro tested a next generation high thrust Vikas engine, which powered the rocket’s second stage. The improved engine increased the payload capability of the vehicle.
The second stage also had electromechanical actuation system replacing electrohydraulic actuation system to enhance the reliability of the rocket. Officials said any improvement done to the vehicle would be incorporated into GSLV’s future missions, including Chandrayaan-2 planned for October 2018.GSAT-6A
The satellite has a six-metre wide antenna that would unfurl once it is in space. The antenna, meant for S-band communication, is three times broader than those generally used in Isro satellite. This feature will enable the satellite to provide mobile communication for the country through handheld ground terminals. The smaller antenna in other communication satellites require larger ground stations.
While GSAT-6A will complement GSAT-6, Isro sources said the satellite would also provide services to the Indian Armed Forces.
GSAT-6 has been providing satellite communication services since its launch on August 27, 2015.