ISRO begins countdown for launch of South Asian satellite from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota Photograph: (Zee News Network)
As India prepares to launch the South Asia Satellite on board GSAT-F09 at 4:57 pm IST today, we take a look at how this Indian initiative took shape.
Codenamed GSAT-9, it is popularly known as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) satellite. Its purpose is to boost telecommunication infrastructure in the South Asian region.
The satellite will launch from Sriharikota, off Andhra Pradesh coast.
This was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Mann ki Baat radio address recently.
During India's 2014 election campaign, Narendra Modi had vowed to improve relations with neighbouring countries.
During the 2014 general election campaign of India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared he will formulate policies that will focus on improving relations with immediate neighbors. (Zee News Network)
He had invited all the heads of states of SAARC countries during his swearing-in ceremony, in an effort to build better relations with South Asian nations.
Dubbed by the media as a mini-SAARC summit, Modi held informal talks with every leader.
India has an active space programme since 1965. (Zee News Network)
A month after Modi took office, he asked Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop a satellite that would benefit all the countries in the region.
India spent Rs 235 crore to build the communications satellite.
Chairman of ISRO, A. S. Kiran Kumar stated that the satellite could be launched within 18 months of receiving approval from the SAARC member nations. (Zee News Network)
The satellite enables full range of applications and services in the areas of telecommunication and broadcasting applications via television (TV), direct-to-home (DTH), very small aperture terminals (VSATs), tele-education, tele-medicine and disaster management support.
The satellite has 12 Ku-band transponders (36 Mhz each), and will be launched using the Indian Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk-II.
While Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have given a ringing endorsement to India's initiative, Pakistan has not viewed it favourably.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena (Represenational Image) (Zee News Network)
Islamabad raised concerns regarding security and mission scope of the satellite.
Pakistan argued that the satellite could possibly give India access to sensitive information database infrastructure.
The spacecraft was initially named ‘SAARC Satellite‘, but the name was changed to ‘South Asia Satellite’ after Pakistan refused to be a part of the programme.