GSAT-9 Launch: Maiden telecommunication satellite for region launched from Sriharikota

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Sriharikota: In a bid to foster deep friendship with neighbouring nations, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched its GSAT-9 or the South Asia Communication Satellite from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh at 4.57 PM today. The launch of the SAARC satellite is India’s biggest space diplomacy push. This morning, the launching area reported good weather and smooth progress for the launch of the SAARC satellite. The satellite is expected to boost communication links among South Asian countries. The 28-hour countdown for the launch began on Thursday after which ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said, “We have the launch tomorrow at 4.57 pm in the evening… All activities are going on smoothly.”

The project includes India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives while Pakistan has decided to opt out and Afghanistan has not stated its commitment. Today’s launch is believed to be a move to counter China in space diplomacy. The functions of the South Asia satellite will include telemedicine and education. The South Asia Satellite costs around Rs 235 crore and is meant for providing communication and disaster support, connectivity among the countries of South Asia region.

The SAARC nations will together benefit to the tune of Rs 10,000 crore ($1.5 billion) over the satellite’s 12-year lifespan. The SAS has 12 Ku-band transponders which The SAARC nations can utilise to increase communications. Each country which is participating in the project will get access to at least one transponder through which they could come up their own programming. During his recent radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on last Sunday, the Prime Minister had announced that the South Asia Satellite would be India’s priceless gift to its neighbouring countries. “On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite. The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project,” Modi said.

During his recent radio address ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on last Sunday, the Prime Minister had announced that the South Asia Satellite would be India’s priceless gift to its neighbouring countries. “On May 5, India will launch the South Asia Satellite. The benefits of this satellite will go a long way in meeting the developmental needs of the countries participating in this project,” Modi said.

Reports state that the SAS will enable a full range of applications and services to SAARC nations in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications which will include television, direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, telemedicine and disaster management support”.

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